Catching up with Friends...

Last Sunday I was very kindly invited to Jane McDonald’s concert at Leeds Grand Theatre by some friends I made when filming Secret Millionaire in Cornwall last summer.

Maureen who worked at the care home where I spent time during the programme, arranged the tickets for us and brought along Sarah and Tony the care home owners who I’ve kept in touch with since filming.

Maureen and I got on really well last summer and she’s led an interesting life as the former nanny to Bruce Forsythe’s family, and Jane McDonald’s cook.

Since they were travelling all the way from Cornwall I invited them to stay over at my house after the show. It took them all day to get here though, and I presume one of the care home residents must have lent them a map printed before motorways were built as they drove on A roads for the entire journey!. We dashed to Leeds and by the time we arrived Jane was already on stage.

I’ve known Jane for almost 10 years since she co-presented the final of Mr Gay UK with me in 1999 which was broadcast on Channel Five. She is an amazing singer, and so proud of her Yorkshire roots. This tour is promoting her new album ‘Jane’ which is scheduled for release on August 11th . It culminates on 12th December in St Georges Hall, Bradford which is sure to be a sellout too.

Jane shot to fame in the 90’s in the docu-soap ‘The Cruise’ and her high profile wedding in 1998 was watched by 600 million viewers worldwide. Unfortunately the pressures of fame took their toll on her marriage and she went through a turbulent few years but with true Yorkshire grit she has bounced back and found happiness in her private life and maintained a very successful career.

She appears regularly on ITV’s Loose Women which won best daytime tv show, my friend the comedian Alan Carr is often filming in the same building and he told me he always drops in on her and has a cheeky laugh with her. I can’t wait for 8th August too when ‘Return to The Cruise’ the follow up documentary will be broadcast on BBC2.

Jane’s success is not solely down to her fabulous voice but her witty, slapstick sense of humour which she brings to the stage and has her audience in stitches. She knew loads of people in the audience last Sunday and when I met her at the interval she told me how proud she was to perform to a full house back in Yorkshire and what a buzz it gave her.

She did a great job hosting Mr Gay UK, and I was really impressed how naturally she chatted with the contestants on stage and made them feel at ease. I believe Yorkshire needs another chat show host since Michael Parkinson retired, maybe Jane could be just the person?

Who’s the celebrity?

On Saturday I was very honoured to be asked as a guest to Holywell Green School’s annual summer fete.

I’m keen to get involved in our local community so of course I jumped at this opportunity. I’m not sure the school realised what they were in for though as I’m being followed by a camera crew at the moment for a new documentary.

When making any tv programme you have to get permission from everyone being featured to ensure they’re ok with it so of course I wanted the school to be comfortable having cameras around. The Head Teacher was absolutely wonderful about it and very accommodating. We were all well looked after and it will be lovely for the school to see themselves on TV when the programme is broadcast.

I’m sworn to secrecy at the moment though but promise to tell you more when I can!

I was asked to judge the cake competition (and try not to eat them) which was well supported, but when I spotted the pink castle cake with ice cream cones for turrets and labelled ‘ Britain’s Best Home’ there was only ever going to be one winner. I then auctioned off the cakes to raise funds for the school which was hilarious �" one cake looked gorgeous but it was really heavy so I advised any potential bidders not to feed it to any ducks, at which point there were tears rolling down my face. Everyone watching burst into fits of giggles and it felt like sharing a joke with friends, everyone was so friendly.

One boy was bidding on the winning castle cake but I outbid him by £1. He looked really upset though so I decided to give it to him anyway.

My Sister brought my Mum along in her wheelchair and as she tried to go inside and find me a lady excitably told her that there wasn’t much room inside as everyone was crowded in to see the celebrity.

Great thought Rosemarie, Terry must have brought along one of his celebrity friends, she wondered in anticipation who it could be? She couldn’t see anyone though, only me standing at the front.

So she asked the lady, who the celebrity was, to which she replied, “Can you believe it, the local Millionaire from the Castle is here?” Rosemarie was so disappointed, she’d got all excited about the prospect of meeting someone like Shayne Ward again and all she got was me!

After the cake contest , my next task was to judge the fancy dress competition. So many of the children had made an effort and there were some wonderful costumes, however I was most impressed with those who'd been creative and made their own rather than hiring or buying one so I chose a female vampire for the infants and a cricketer for the juniors - he had a sticker on his back saying ‘rain stopped play.’

I really enjoyed the day, so much so that I’ve decided to help organise another summer fete for Stainland Community Centre in August so watch this space for more details.