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I’m A Celebrity: Inside the world of Jane McDonald fandom

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When Radio 1’s Adele Roberts revealed that the one “luxury item” she’d brought into the I’m A Celebrity camp was a picture of Jane McDonald, it wasn’t just her other campmates who were staring blank-faced.

As Adele proudly held up a framed picture of the former Loose Woman star on Monday night – me, my mates and it seemed every other I’m A Celeb fan on my social media, picked up our phones and searched “Who is Jane McDonald?”

I quickly realised that the singer and TV personality has a dedicated, some might say cult-like following, is hailed as a bit of an icon by the LGBT community and has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

So, in a bid to find out more about the TV star hailed by Adele as a “national treasure”, I’ve been speaking to those inside her devoted fan base.

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In her own words, Jane says she’s “been on telly quite a bit”.

She got her break back in 1998 on the BBC’s documentary series The Cruise – which attracted over 10 million viewers – and turned Jane from a cruise ship entertainer into a celebrity. Since then, she’s appeared on ITV makeover show, Star Treatment, and was a Loose Woman from 2004 until 2014.

She has also had a number one self-titled album, and won a BAFTA for her Channel 5 series Cruising with Jane McDonald which sees her travel the world in a series of seriously bouji cruise ships.

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So far I’ve found out that Jane has been famous for basically my whole life. I’m impressed.

She tells Radio 1 Newsbeat that her popularity among younger fans has risen recently.

“I’ve been in the background for quite a while, which is fine, but all of a sudden I don’t know what’s happened”, she said.

“I’m so thrilled… I’m a little bit speechless.”

It seems Jane was almost as baffled as me when she saw Adele hanging up a printed picture of her like a shrine.

“When I saw it, I nearly died,” she says.

Still curious what it is about this particular TV personality that inspires such hero worship in fans of all ages, I asked some super fans to explain the magic of Jane.

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‘A gay icon’

“I don’t know if you’ve been at house party when someone puts on Jane McDonald’s Disco Medley,” says fan Mark Harrop, 30.

I haven’t.

“Madness ensues. It’s horrendously camp… people putting on a pair of heels and a bit of sparkles and even pretending they’re her.”

He says Jane has become a gay icon, and brings fun to what can sometimes be a “gloomy world”.

“She’s someone you want to go and have a bottle of wine with… you can imagine her being one of your mum’s friends.”

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Jolie

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Katie and Jolie have met Jane multiple times

Team Jane

Katie and Jolie, who now run the twitter account Team Jane McDonald, met through their love of Jane.

Jolie says at the age of 13 she was being home-schooled and would watch Jane speak openly about bullying on Loose Women, when her mum had it on.

As a teenager who had few friends, this resonated with her. She says it made her feel less alone.

Jolie’s fascination with Jane increased after she watched her videos on YouTube, and now at the age of 22 she’s met her and seen her perform countless times.

She even has a tattoo of the lyrics to Jane’s song, The Rose, written in the singer’s handwriting on her left rib cage.

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Jolie Murrell

“She didn’t want to do it at first, it took a lot of persuading,” Jolie tells Newsbeat.

A recurring theme when I spoke to both Jolie and Mark was the notion that Jane is hard-working and came from humble beginnings. They say it’s a quality that makes her more relatable and endearing.

“She’s a proper northern lass who has worked so hard,” Mark says.

Jolie agrees: “She’s so ambitious, us young people love seeing that.”

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Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.





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R. Kelly faces bribery charge over 1994 marriage to Aaliyah

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R. Kelly arrives for a hearing on sexual abuse charges at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in June 2019Image copyright
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The singer has faced allegations of underage abuse for two decades

R. Kelly has been charged with bribing a government official in order to get a fraudulent identification document to marry an under-age girl in 1994.

The girl, named only as Jane Doe in the documents, has widely been identified by US media as singer Aaliyah.

They got married when she was 15 and R. Kelly was 27. The certificate, leaked at the time, listed her age as 18.

R. Kelly is facing several sexual abuse charges with trials in Chicago and New York next year. He denies wrongdoing.

The latest criminal indictment was filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, and expands on charges filed against him in July.

  • R. Kelly denied bail as second trial date set

They say he and his entourage headed up a racketeering operation, across two decades, which recruited women and under-age girls for illegal sexual activity.

What is the new charge?

R. Kelly, real name Robert Kelly, is accused of paying a bribe to an unnamed Illinois government employee to obtain a fake ID.

That identification was then used to obtain a marriage licence which listed her age as 18, the New York Times reports.

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Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001

Court documents reportedly say the bribe was paid on 30 August 1994 – just one day before the marriage licence to Aaliyah, first reported by Vibe magazine.

Their marriage was annulled months later because the teenager, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, was under age.

The singer died in a plane crash in 2001. Her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, was produced and written by R. Kelly.

Steven Greenberg, R. Kelly’s lawyer, told ABC News earlier this year that his client had “no idea” Aaliyah was 15 when they married.

Responding to the New York Times on Thursday, Mr Greenberg said the new charge “does not appear to materially alter the landscape”.

More on the R Kelly allegations

  • The history of allegations against him

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Media captionLanita Carter explains why she decided to speak out publicly against R Kelly

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David Beckham sleeping film plays at hospital he was born in

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'David' on show at Whipps Cross HospitalImage copyright
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Taylor-Johnson’s David video is on display at Whipps Cross Hospital

An hour-long video of former footballer David Beckham sleeping has gone on show at the London hospital he was born in.

Sam Taylor-Johnson’s artwork has been loaned to the ultrasound department at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, east London, until March 2020.

Unveiled in 2004, David shows England’s then-football captain getting 40 winks after a Real Madrid training session.

The National Portrait Gallery’s Sarah Tinsley said both artist and subject were “very happy” with the loan.

  • Sleeping Beckham makes art debut

Beckham, now 44, was born in the hospital’s maternity unit in 1975 and grew up nearby.

Taylor-Johnson was commissioned to create a portrait of him in 2002, when she was known as Sam Taylor-Wood.

The Fifty Shades of Grey director has previously called the piece, which plays on a continuous loop, a “meditation on celebrity”.

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Beckham was filmed by Taylor-Johnson (right) while he was playing for Real Madrid

“We looked at a number of different venues with a relationship to David Beckham, including a railway station, a school and a football ground,” said Tinsley.

“In the end, the hospital seemed to provide the best environment for showing the work.

“What this space provides is a moment of quietness while people are waiting for appointments or coming out,” she continued.

“The work is a very peaceful, very intimate, different kind of portrait [that] provides people with something very quiet [and] peaceful to look at.”

The loan is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Coming Home project, which involves portraits of 50 individuals travelling to places which which they are closely associated.

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C3PO actor: ‘I was left out of Star Wars publicity’

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C3PO actor Anthony Daniels has told BBC Radio 5 Live that not being included in publicity for the original Star Wars film left him feeling “rejected, redacted and ignored”.

Speaking to Jamie Stangroom, he said “mystery men” behind the original Star Wars film wanted to maintain an illusion that C3PO was “a real automaton. That he was an advanced piece of electronics, magically created by the studios and the production.”

The studio went so far as to not include Daniels’ name on the original poster, which he said left him feeling inferior to co-stars Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Sir Alec Guinness.



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