Main claim

Fame by pure freakish chance. Jane McDonald was a raving nobody until some docusoap fly-on-the-wall cameras took it upon themselves to gild her with their own brand of specious celebrity status. Now providing the fastest route to the breakfast TV stardom, Blankety Blank and the weary inevitability of the record deal, the docusoap is the natural home for frustrated show-offs: that refuge formerly provided by Blind Date, Kilroy and karaoke bars. Thus one Jane McDonald found herself singing to the nation when filmed as on-board crooner in the mystifyingly popular BBC1 effort The Cruise. Today, she is featured in a BBC Choice show which debates the joys and pitfalls of cut-out-and-keep fame. You can't get much classier than that, now can you?


Upfront Northern lass with a predilection for the shopping mall, the department store makeover and the regular appointment with Dwayne at Crimpers. Lesley Garrett meets panto queen.

Fame game

Fancy a bit of attention, readers? Become a star! Forget the long hard slog, the slow build-up, the possession of raw talent, charisma or native pulchritude. Yes, you too can be a bad driver, a vicious traffic warden or a disheartened cruiseship crooner and end up with an agent, a TV contract, and bored teenagers chasing you for your autograph. Or you can get engaged to John Major's son. Alternatively, call yourself Tara.

Stars in their eyes

Jane McDonald is a 35-year-old from Wakefield. She was considering abandoning her none too starry career as on-board warbler to cruising grannies when the BBC moved in. In a twinkle, her album of cover songs rocketed to Number One in the charts. She then managed to marry her Danish fiance on telly too. Now she has returned to the studio to record a second album. There's no escape. And there you have it, folks.

Outrageous fortune

The protagonists of the recent spate of docusoaps have enjoyed, shall we say, mixed fortunes. Our protagonist may be sailing high in the charts, but one Emma Boundy from BBCl's Lakesiders, a shop assistant who ended up signing a pounds 100,000 recording deal with EMI, found that her debut album, Emma, barely limped out of the shops. Emma discovered her fiance was having an affair with her own sister three weeks before the wedding. Life is hard. But perhaps not that hard if you're an ex-small-time warbler with a Number One album.

Fame prospects

Jane McDonald - who?