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Jason Donovan (born 1 June 1968) is an Australian actor and singer. He initially achieved fame in the Australian soap Neighbours, before beginning a career in music in 1988. In the UK he has sold over 3 million records, and his début album Ten Good Reasons was one of the highest-selling albums of 1989, with UK sales of over 1.5 million copies. He has had four UK No. 1 singles, one of which was "Especially for You", his 1988 duet with fellow Neighbours co-star Kylie Minogue. He has also appeared in several stage musicals, most prominently in the lead role of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the early 1990s.
Born in Australia, he now resides in London, United Kingdom.
Jason Donovan was born in Malvern, Melbourne, and is the son of Sue Menlove (now Sue McIntosh) and veteran stage and television actor Terence Donovan (who also appeared in Neighbours) who has English and Irish ancestry. Following his parents' separation and divorce, his father was awarded full custody of him in 1972 and brought him up on his own. Donovan has had no contact with his mother since the divorce. His half-sister is former Neighbours star Stephanie McIntosh. He attended De La Salle College Malvern.
Donovan's partner since 1998 has been Angela Malloch, a former stage manager, with whom he has three children. Donovan and Malloch were married in Bali in 2008.
Donovan was the subject of an episode of the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? on 30 August 2010 in which he discovered he is a descendant of the pioneer William Cox, who built the first road across Australia's Blue Mountains in 1814. Donovan confirmed he is Jewish through his maternal great-grandmother, Eileen Dawson (née Lyons). His great-great-grandparents Joseph and Rosetta Lyons originated from Whitechapel, London.
1980–89: Television career and Neighbours
Donovan made his first television appearance at age 11 in a guest role on the Australian series Skyways in 1980. In the episode, his on-screen sister was played by future Neighbours co-star Kylie Minogue. He also appeared in the series I Can Jump Puddles (1981) and Golden Pennies (1985) before entering the cast of Neighbours in 1986 as Scott Robinson (replacing actor Darius Perkins, who had played the role for the first year of the series). His character's story arcs included an onscreen romance and wedding to Charlene Mitchell (played by Minogue), and helped boost the show's popularity with British as well as Australian audiences.
He won his first Logie Award for "Best New Talent" in 1987 and received a commendation in the category "Performance by a Male Actor In a Series" from the Television Society of Australia's Penguin Awards. In 1988 he was awarded the Silver Logie for the "Most Popular Actor" on Australian television.
In addition to his regular role in Neighbours, Donovan appeared as "Happy Houston" in the 1988 Australian World War II mini-series The Heroes, based on the historical novel by Ronald McKie. He won the 1990 Logie Award for "Most Popular Actor in a Mini-Series".
Donovan left Neighbours in 1989. Twenty years later, he said that he had been asked to return to tie in with the show's 25th anniversary in 2010, but was unable to do so due to other work commitments.
1988–91: Pop career
While he was still appearing in Neighbours, Donovan followed Minogue (who had already left the series by this point) in signing a recording contract with Mushroom Records in Australia, and with PWL in the UK. His first single, "Nothing Can Divide Us", was released in 1988. Like Minogue's material, it was written and produced by the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. The single reached number five in the UK.
Donovan's next single was a duet with Minogue. "Especially for You" was released in December 1988, and after spending four weeks at No. 2 in the UK, it hit No. 1 in January 1989. It was the fourth-highest selling single in the UK in 1988, and 17th in Australia for 1989.
His next single, "Too Many Broken Hearts", reached number one in the UK in March 1989. He released his début album, Ten Good Reasons, in May 1989, which also reached number one (for three weeks). For two weeks, Donovan held the number one positions in the singles chart and the albums chart simultaneously, when his next single, a cover of Brian Hyland's "Sealed With a Kiss", entered the UK charts at number one.
In December 1989, he took part in Band Aid II's version of "Do They Know it's Christmas", which also included Minogue, whose exit from Neighbours had by now been shown on screen in both Australia and the UK. His own exit from the show had by this stage been shown on Australian television, although it was not aired on British television until several months later.
Donovan released his second album, Between The Lines, in May 1990, again produced by Stock Aitken Waterman. Although the album reached Platinum status in the UK, it was less successful than his debut a year before, peaking at no. 2 and selling only a fifth as many copies. Five singles were released from the album, and although they all reached the UK Top 30, they also signaled a decline in his popularity. Between 1988 and 1992, Donovan garnered 16 Top 40 hit singles in the UK.
He embarked on an extensive world tour in 1990, The "Doin' Fine Tour". It covered the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe, Australia, Singapore and other parts of South East Asia. The Dublin concert was recorded and released on VHS in 1990; and released on DVD in 2010.
Donovan continued to act alongside his pop career, and in 1990 he appeared in his first feature film, Blood Oath (released in some countries as Prisoners of the Sun).
1991–93: Stage career and The Face lawsuit
In 1991, Donovan accepted the lead role in the restaged London Palladium version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, directed by Steven Pimlott. Donovan had his third solo UK No. 1 single with one of its songs, "Any Dream Will Do". Donovan left the production in early 1992.
In 1992, Donovan launched a libel action against The Face magazine which had published allegations that he was homosexual. Donovan won £200,000 in damages and the magazine had to pay a further £100,000 in costs, but the lawsuit created a backlash with people accusing him of being homophobic. Although he had been a mild drug user who had smoked cannabis joints up until this point, in the months after his libel action Donovan began using cocaine. In a 2007 interview in the magazine Marie Claire and also in his 2007 autobiography Between The Lines: My Story Uncut, Donovan stated that suing The Face was the biggest mistake of his life.
Donovan moved to Polydor Records and released his third album, All Around The World (1993).
1995–99: Drug addiction, The Last Bullet and continued musical work
Donovan later admitted that by 1995 he had a serious drug problem, taking around two grams of cocaine a day. In early 1995, he attended model Kate Moss's 21st birthday party at The Viper Room in Los Angeles, where he suffered a drug-induced seizure.
Later in 1995, Donovan starred in the Australian TV film The Last Bullet with Koji Tamaki, directed by Michael Pattison, which was set in World War II on the Pacific island of Borneo.
In 1998, Donovan took the lead role of Dr. Frank N. Furter in the UK touring production of The Rocky Horror Show, where he met stage manager Angela Malloch. After the pair had a brief relationship, Malloch became pregnant and gave Donovan an ultimatum that he had to kick drugs once and for all if he wanted to be part of their child's life.
In late 1999, Donovan stated that he still used cocaine, saying: "I still have a joint and I still take coke, but not as much as I did two years ago."
Donovan states he has been drug-free since 2000, the year his first child was born.
2000–05: Fatherhood, MDA and Sweeney Todd musical
Donovan's daughter Jemma was born in March 2000. Since then, with his drug problems now under control, he continued to act on stage and television, and had a role in the medical-legal television drama MDA (2003–05), on Australia's ABC network. Since 2003, Donovan has also lent his voice to the Buzz! series of quiz video games.
In late 2004, he was headlining in the stage musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. He finished his original run on 13 March 2005, but was then invited back from June onwards to play in the final two months of the show, until its closure on 4 September 2005. Following this, he has toured the UK performing a few gigs and returned to the stage in January 2006 to star in a UK tour of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. After this, he returned to Melbourne to star in David Eldrige's Australian transfer of the London drama Festen.
2005–06: Virgin Mobile phone controversy and participation in I'm A Celebrity...
In 2005, Donovan's mobile phone number was circulated around the web in Australia, due to an image that was taken in Sydney. It appeared that Donovan was trying to sell his car, and unwittingly released his mobile phone number to the public. From 10 September, his answering machine had a special message on it, because he was frustrated by the number of calls he was receiving for no particular reason. Virgin placed advertisements in several high-profile Australian newspapers, urging people not to call Donovan, one of their customers. Virgin Mobile has since admitted the photos were all part of a marketing ploy. Virgin also ran TV advertisements showing Donovan answering prank calls, asking the viewer not to call him, then displaying his number.
Donovan took part in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in 2006 and finished in 3rd place. While in the jungle, he became good friends with David Gest and Matt Willis. Donovan also took part in many Bushtucker Trials, which included wearing a helmet full of insects and playing a giant game of Operation. Donovan lost out on the King of the Jungle Crown to Matt Willis. However, during an interview on The Steve Wright Show on BBC Radio 2 (January 2008), he claimed that his appearance on I'm A Celebrity... had revitalised his career.
2007–09: Return to music career and soap operas
Donovan performed a medley of songs from Joseph along with other actors who have played the eponymous role (Donny Osmond and Lee Mead) at the Concert for Diana in July 2007.
In early 2008, Donovan had a role in ITV's post-watershed soap opera Echo Beach; the series was cancelled after 12 episodes. He also presented Sunday Night with Jason Donovan, a programme on The One Network of British local radio stations.
On 25 September 2008, Donovan performed in the canteen at the head offices of Tesco in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. He was promoting his forthcoming album, Let It Be Me, which was released on 10 November 2008. The album, his first for 15 years, reached No. 28 in Britain.
Also in 2008, Donovan performed at the Party In The Park in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.
In 2009, Donovan performed as Tick (Mitzi) in the London stage musical production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre. Also in 2009, Donovan began appearing in television commercials (with Kerry Katona and Coleen Nolan) for the frozen food supermarket chain Iceland in the UK.
2010–present: Soundtrack of the 80s, Strictly Come Dancing, Sign of Your Love, Superstar
In September 2010, Donovan took part in the BBC television series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his family tree back several generations. Donovan's fifth studio album, Soundtrack Of The 80s, was released in October 2010. The album is composed of cover versions of well known 1980s hits such as "Drive" (The Cars), "I Just Died In Your Arms" (Cutting Crew) and "Sign Your Name" (Terence Trent D'Arby) and several others. The same year, Donovan played the role of The Artilleryman in the 2010–2011 stage show Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. The show toured the UK and Europe, starting in November 2010 and finished in Germany in January 2011. Donovan also voiced the part of Toby the Kangaroo in the environmental animated film Animals United.
In February 2011, Donovan appeared on the BBC series Ready, Steady, Cook. Later in 2011, he performed on the Here and Now Tour, and also toured in a production of The Sound of Music playing Captain Von Trapp. The production co-starred Verity Rushworth as Maria. From September 2011, Donovan took part in the ninth series of the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. He was partnered with dancer Kristina Rihanoff and finished third in the competition. Donovan presents a voice-tracked radio show on Heart each Sunday from 10am - 12pm.
In March 2012, Donovan released a new album of covers, Sign Of Your Love, which peaked at number 36 in the UK Albums Chart. In May 2012, Donovan was interviewed by Piers Morgan on the ITV series Piers Morgan's Life Stories, in which he talked openly about his career, his past and ex relationship with Kylie Minogue, and his battle with drugs. During the interview, Donovan also admitted that he'd undergone hair transplantation to counteract his thinning hair. In Summer 2012, he appeared as a judge on ITV's talent search show Superstar. In late 2012, Donovan again toured the UK and Europe in a new version of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, this time playing Parson Nathaniel.
In 2013, Donovan reprised his role as Tick/Mitzi in the UK national touring production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. On 5 May 2013, Donovan was heard narrating Pick TV's budget version of Rude Tube, entitled Video Surf. Donovan revealed in January 2015 that he was invited to return to Neighbours for the show's 30th anniversary celebrations, but he declined the offer, adding "it's just not something I want to do". However, he agreed to take part in the documentary special Neighbours 30th: The Stars Reunite, which aired in Australia and the UK in March 2015.
Since 2015, Donovan has presented Jason Donovan's 80's Rewind (known as All 80's from 2015–2017) on Heart Radio, which airs on Sunday evenings from 19:00 until 22:00.
In 2016, Jason Donovan toured the UK with his Ten Good Reasons and Greatest Hits Tour.