Jane McDonald's Yorkshire: The singer on her new Channel 5 series

Singer and Loose Women star Jane McDonald stars in her own series celebrating her home county of Yorkshire on Channel 5 starting later this month.

On a very personal journey, Jane explores the rolling hills and big skies, quaint villages and bustling towns and cities.

She also shares the happy memories from her past as well as the history, the beauty, the warmth of the county where she’s lived all her life.

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Episode one sees the Wakefield-born and bred Jane takes an autobiographic road trip through her hometown, taking in the delights of the city and surrounding Yorkshire market towns.

Jane McDonald heads to her home county of Yorkshire in a new Channel 5 showJane McDonald heads to her home county of Yorkshire in a new Channel 5 show
Jane McDonald heads to her home county of Yorkshire in a new Channel 5 show

Reflecting on her childhood she visits the beautiful village of Holmfirth, the setting for the sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.

A firm TV favourite in the McDonald household, she meets up with actor Jonathan Linsley who played Crusher in the series.

She visits Wakefield Cathedral, where she would while away many a lunch hour as a young girl, amazed at its exquisite interior, finishing with a stunning performance by the Cathedral choir at Chantry Chapel. And reminisces about old times at one of the biggest variety clubs in the north, the Wakefield Theatre Club, where all of the big stars of the day performed.

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Singer Jane, who first shot to TV fame on BBC docu-soap The Cruise, was a popular member of the Loose Women panel for many years before leaving the show and going on to score BAFTA winning success with her much loved Channel 5 show Cruising With Jane McDonald.

In her autobiography Riding the Waves, Jane talks about her romance with former Liquid Gold star Ed Rothe in their younger days, when she worked in a local nightclub.

After going their separate ways, two were reunited decades later after a chance meeting in the ITV studios and were together for 12 years before Ed, 67, sadly passed away last year after a battle with lung cancer. Ed died when the country was in lockdown.

Here Jane talks to Sue Wilkinson about her new series

Please tell me about your new series

It’s a love letter to the viewers as to why I keep mentioning Yorkshire and Wakefield all the time! No matter what show I’m on, I always get a mention of Wakefield in somewhere. I just want to show everyone my beautiful city and my beautiful county.

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I know it opens in Wakefield. Where else do you go in the series?

I go right up the East Coast which is Bridlington, Scarborough, and Whitby. That coastline is to die for, and you’ll see why. I go to Knaresborough and up in The Moors, the Yorkshire Dales…everywhere, it’s just stunning. We’ve been to so many places.

What were the highlights of the series?

I think my home city was a highlight for me. Just seeing how its evolved. It was tough for a lot of people in Yorkshire in the 70s and 80s, but that’s the resilience. We’ve got through and it’s coming back. I think all cities are, but I hope they all come back with new ventures and new ways of being what we had. We were so industrious before and that’s taken a big toll on everything around the communities, but hopefully new flowers will blossom.

Can you tell me any extra-special stories about the making of the series - and the people you met?

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I met some great people along the way! I met Frazer Hines from Emmerdale which was lovely. I met Jonathan Linsley from Last of the Summer Wine and it was so lovely listening to their stories from filming all those years ago.

Emmerdale was called Emmerdale Farm when it first came out and it was literally filmed in a kitchen on the farm, that was it. Whereas now, they’ve got plane crashes and murders and it’s all very much dramatized now, but that’s once again how things evolve.

It started as Annie Sugden baking in the kitchen to a plane crash going into The Woolpack. It’s fascinating to see how things have changed, but still retaining its nostalgia. I also met up with Vicky who was the one who got me on the ships all those years ago. That was quite an emotional reunion as I hadn’t seen her for years. I sat and had a chat with her about the old days. She saw me in the club said ‘you’d be great on the ships’, so I had a lot to thank her for because she was the one who changed my destiny.

What and who make Yorkshire so special?

The people definitely make Yorkshire special. There’s something about being Yorkshire person and being with Yorkshire people. I think every sort of county has that, but we just are extremely proud of what we do.

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What other projects have you on the go, coming up and planned?

Well, I’ve got my Christmas show in Leeds and this new series about Yorkshire coming out. I’m also filming a new series in the Caribbean for Channel 5. I’m then going straight into a tour; I’m doing the Queen’s Jubilee in Scarborough and I’ll be touring right up until September and putting my feet up at the end of next year.

Jane McDonald's Yorkshire will be screened on Channel 5 from the week beginning January 22.

Jane will be joined by a host of special guests for Yorkshire’s Platinum Jubilee Concert at Scarborough Open Air Theatre on Saturday June 4.