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JASON DONOVAN

JASON DONOVAN

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    Despite early desires to become Batman or an airline pilot, the world of entertainment has always beckoned for Jason Sean Donovan. Born in Melbourne on 1st June 1968, Jason’s parents were both Australian entertainment icons. After his parents parted company when he was five, Jason was raised by his Dad Terence, who was an actor. Consequently, Jason spent much of his youth on television sets, and it was little surprise when he took a small role in lunchtime series Skyways. Throughout the next few years Jason remained in full-time education but still appeared in shows such as Home, I Can Jump Puddles and Golden Pennies.

    A taste of things to come

    Jason’s major entertainment breakthrough came when he auditioned for the Scott Robinson role in Neighbours. This would prove to be a pivotal moment as the much loved Aussie soap-opera made Jason a global celebrity, symbolised best by his collecting of the prestigious Logie award recognising him as the most popular Australian talent in 1987.

    Jason’s Neighbours “love interest” Charlene was played by another rising Aussie star, Kylie Minogue. The two had previously met on the set of Skyways, when Kylie had played Jason’s sister. Their blossoming on screen romance was paralleled off screen, leading to years of rumours about their relationship. This culminated in confirmation that they were indeed together, only for their respective music careers to force them apart.

    Pop Mania

    After signing with music entertainment manager Richard East, Jason spread his wings and embarked on a pop career overseas. Having been picked up by Aussie record label Mushroom, Jason then worked with the same successful trio responsible for the launch of Kylie Minogue. In partnership with Stock, Aiken and Waterman (SAW) Jason was to become a teenage heart throb and adorn the bedroom walls of many teenage girls in the UK. His debut single Nothing Can Divide Us shot to number 5 in the UK charts in September 1988. Capitalising on the success in the on-screen partnership of Charlene and Scott, Jason and Kylie recorded romantic duet, Especially For You which went to number one and didn’t leave the charts for 14 weeks.

    1989 presented Jason with his first solo UK number one Too Many Broken Hearts (Feb) and chart topping album Ten Good Reasons (May). He also celebrated further chart success the same year with singles Everyday, Sealed With A Kiss and When You Come Back To Me.

    In between single releases Jason found time to film Blood Oath, Heroes and Shadows Of The Heart, ensuring he didn’t turn his back on his original profession as an actor.

    1990 was another busy year. As well as a second album (Between The Lines), singles Hang On To Your Love, Another Night, Rhythm Of The Rain and I’m Doing Fine, kept Jason in the UK charts. In June Jason embarked on his Doing Fine tour where he played around the world to thousands of screaming fans in sold-out venues.

    The West End beckons

    From pop-mania to the dazzle of London’s Westend, Jason took on the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1991 production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He played the part of Joseph at the London Palladium for eighteen months and from the show released popular tunes Any Dream Will Do and the Joseph Megamix.

    Two other singles were also released on the PWL label that year, RSVP and Happy Together.

    In 1992 Jason sued The Face magazine after they published allegations he was gay. Despite winning £200,000 in damages, it wasn’t a time of celebration as in taking Libel action Jason had alienated his gay audience. Although Jason came to an agreement with the publishers that meant they wouldn’t be financially ruined, this gesture came too late for many fans who had incorrectly perceived him as homophobic.

    After ‘hanging up’ the dreamcoat, the rollercoaster slowed down a gear and under the Polydor label, Jason released his third album All Around The World. Breaking away from the SAW pop music formula, Jason's new tunes were penned by a variety of respected writers such as Nik Kershaw. Whilst the album and subsequent singles (Mission Of Love, As Time Goes By and All Around The World) weren’t the same smash success that previous releases had been, they all charted none the less. The Mission Of Love tour followed and Jason got back out on the road once again

    Relative Anonymity

    Having been unable to walk down the street for the last five years without being mobbed, the mid 1990s offered respite for Jason. Whilst he continued to work, the projects taken on did not afford the same public exposure he had experienced previously. Having had five number one singles, a lead role in a smash-hit Westend show and been dubbed the only person who had ever managed to recreate ‘Beatle-mania’, Jason turned to cocaine for new highs.

    Although the public may not have realised how busy Jason was, during the period of 1993 to 2005, he embarked on a variety of projects too long to list here (refer to the Performing page).

    One career choice that changed his life forever was the acceptance of the colourful role of Frank ‘N’ Furter in the UK production (1998) of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was thanks to this UK-wide tour that Jason met his partner Angela Malloch, who had been the show's assistant stage manager. Jason and Ange are now proud parents to two children, Jemma (born 28 March 2000) and Zac (26 March 2001). It is his children and his love for Ange that is cited as the incentive needed to end his cocaine addiction. Jason has dedicated his own auto-biography to them and touchingly writes that they are “The love, the inspiration and ultimately the turning point”.

    In 2002 Jason and family spent much of their time in Australia while he filmed budget movie Tempe Tip and ABC series MDA. On their return to London Jason secured the lead role in the Westend production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in a twist of fate found himself back treading the boards of the all-familiar London Palladium.

    Jungle Antics

    After much deliberation, Jason accepted an offer to appear on ITV's 2006 show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Despite previously shying away from reality television, Jason bungeed in to the Aussie jungle where he spent three weeks making his way back into the hearts and minds of the British public. Although the jungle crown was won by Matt Willis, Jason finished a respectable 3rd place and returned to the UK to a very warm reception.

    Thanks to the exposure the jungle had given him, and to the delight of thousands of fans, Jason released a greatest hits album and went on tour in May 2007. Audiences were treated to a mix of old tunes, new material and stories from the last 20 years. Jason's performance at the Hammersmith Apollo was filmed and all the action is now available on the All The Hits And More DVD (available from Amazon).

    In June 2007, his first single in 14 years, Share My World was released for download and in July Jason had the pleasure of performing in front an audience of 70,000 at the Princess Diana memorial concert.

    The autobiography Between The Lines: My Story Uncut was published in October 2007 and to support its release, Jason went on a UK wide book signing extravaganza. This, coupled with personal and television appearances (GMTV, X Factor and many more) have ensured his profile in the UK is the highest it’s been since 1993.

    2008 was a busy year for Jason. In January the ITV series Echo Beach was screened and ran for twelve weeks. In this soap Jason played the role of Daniel Marrack, opposite ex-Eastenders actress Martine McCutcheon. As well being back on prime time television, Jason also hosted his own radio show every Sunday which was broadcast across 36 regional radio stations (this shows stills runs as of the start of 2009).

    After a 15 year wait, Jason fans eagerly received his latest album Let It Be Me last November. Released by label Decca, the album was “Inspired by the 50’s and 60’s and plays homage to an era of romance”. A single from the same album (Dreamboats and Petticoats) was released, and a tour to showcase these tunes (as well as a mix of his tunes from the 80’s and 90’s) followed soon after.

    2009 and beyond

    Jasons latest project has taken him back to London's West End, as he has been cast in the role of Tick in the UK musical version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Preview shows opened to very favourable reviews at the Palace Theatre on March 10th. For details of how to purchase tickets please refer to www.priscillathemusical.com

    Whilst life may not be as hectic as the late 1980s, Jason successfully now combines family life with a robust career in entertainment. Although he has achieved more in his career than most people could ever hope to, Jason has said “Hopefully the best is still to come”…... We’ll all have to watch this space.

    For Jason's full story, you can buy his biography Between The Lines – My Story Uncut, published by Harper Collins and available at all good bookshops.

    By Kirsty Langford

    Copyright www.jasondonovan.org.uk

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