After his semi-naked firefighting antics, Belfast-bound star is ready to take on the world
The last time Sunday Life spoke with Jason Donovan, we could never have imagined the actor turned pop star would be tackling a fire later that same night — in his pants.
But that’s exactly what happened, with the Two Many Broken Hearts singer hitting the headlines for his heroic actions — ironically coming to the aid of one of his neighbours, having found fame from the Australian soap of the same name.
Nearly two years on and Jason (53) is still excited by his ‘superhero’ stunt.
He said: “It felt fantastic, man — wahoo, let’s do this!
“I put my cape on and I flew out the door, you know?
“If I remember correctly, I just got home from doing a gig and I heard some banging next door, I was just falling asleep.
“So I looked out the door and I saw someone telling people to get out of the house because they could see flames.
“And then my instant reaction was, you know, they need help and I have a fire extinguisher in the house, in fact I have a couple of fire extinguishers in the house.
“I mean, mate, there’s probably nothing more fulfilling than pulling that key out of the extinguisher.
“And I don’t know about you mate, but it’s a fantasy I’ve had for a long time and I’ve fulfilled it finally.
“You know, I’m OK with those situations and if I can be of help, I will be.
“I don’t know whether I would have put myself in danger but I certainly done what I could to make sure people were safe.”
But not everyone will jump into action before getting their clothes on, but at least he was in pants... Jason admitted he had been kipping in the nude.
He laughed: “There you go. I do funnily enough, I had to get my underpants on. Thank God I was wearing clean underwear. I promise I won’t go out in my underwear tonight.”
That last time when Sunday Life was speaking with Jason it was ahead of his planned Belfast show for last year, which of course was postponed because of the pandemic.
But he will be back next year instead, playing the Ulster Hall on March 1 on his delayed Even More Good Reasons Tour, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his mega-hit debut album Ten Good Reasons.
He said: “It’s always lovely to come to Northern Ireland, always lovely to come to the island of Ireland.
“You know, I have a long association with that part of the world and a fondness and I’m really looking forward to playing there.
“Genuinely, Northern Ireland and Ireland, they’re a bit like the Aussies in a way, they love a chat. I am looking forward to performing all those songs again.
“I did nine weeks at the Palladium over the summer so I’ve got a taste for what’s to come but it’s very different playing a Pharaoh in a musical than it is to playing Jason Donovan on stage, so I’m looking forward to all of it.”
Instead of playing Belfast and 36 other gigs on his tour first time around, Jason was in lockdown like the rest of us.
And he admitted it gave him a new-found appreciation for his work.
He explained: “Lockdown was spent in my house out of town in Oxfordshire, I’m very lucky to have some space.
“But put it this way, my wife is very happy that I’m going back on tour at the moment.
“But you know, I’ve got to get to know my dishwasher extremely well, as I did with my green wheelie bin which was a bit of a worry.
“People ask me about lockdown and whether it was a good time to reflect and pause and it was, and I’ve watched our lives sort of change for ever in a way.
“But it was a forced moment, so it wasn’t quite what I’d call a relaxing six months, we had to sort of give in a bit.
“And you know, I’m in a lucky position, I have a garden and stuff like that, but it’s sort of made me think I’m not ready to retire, that’s for sure.”
It also made him change his mindset when it came to job offers. Doing his first ever panto? Oh yes he is, in Birmingham this year. He said: “Listen, I turned them down for years and it seemed like the right time to do one, because it’s about having fun and not being too serious and I just thought I’m going to give it a go.
“And Michael Harrison who produced Joseph said, ‘Would you be up for it,’ and I thought, ‘Christmas, hmm, I’d quite like not to do 16,000 shows a week over Christmas.
“But you know what, I’m clawing back a few months of lost income too, but I’m doing it because I want to do it and it’s not because I’m being forced to do it, I’m definitely doing it because I want to do it.”
Fans reliving their youth and tapping into the nostalgia of Jason in his pomp will be out in force at Belfast’s Ulster Hall next March, but does it feel like 30 years ago to the man himself?
He admitted: “It depends on what day you’re talking about. When I look back on Top Of The Pops on BBC Four on a Friday night it does seem like a long time ago.
“But you know, I feel lucky in my life. I feel grateful. You know, you create your own luck but timing is everything and I’ve kept focused on one thing.
“Fame was a by-product of what I did, I didn’t set out to become famous. I wanted to become an actor and then a singer and it all came true a little bit — and then what do you do?
“But you know, it’s about my family, it’s about a good life/work balance — at 53 you sort of go, ‘OK, you’ve ticked a lot of boxes here, what’s next?’”
Talking of nostalgia, Sunday Life was talking to Jason the day before Liam Gallagher was due in town to perform Oasis hits alongside his own — only for it to be postponed after he bust his nose falling out of a helicopter.
Jason said: “You are kidding me. Oh my God. I was rock ‘n’ roll back in the day, but mine was sort of born out of all the wrong reasons I think.
“But you know, that’s my story and I don’t regret. I think there’s moments that I could’ve done better but you know, I can’t erase the past.
“You know, one thing I know now is what I don’t want to do, which is all that s*** really and I’ve also learnt that there’s no such thing as being cool.
“Cool is about who you are no matter what you want to be or think everyone should perceive you to be, it’s about being yourself and keeping healthy and having a good family and wanting to work at something and sometimes failing at something.
“It takes a life to learn these things sometimes.
“I’m not an instrument so you can’t tune me up every night and expect the same chords, that’s the best analogy I can say.
“But I’m certainly someone who is a seasoned performer and I know how to make those moments the best moments by being an athlete in a way — and not falling out of a helicopter. S*** that’s funny.”