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Who is the real Aled Jones?

Submitted by on April 29, 2015 – 3:07 pmNo Comment

Aled Jones press shots 2014 Photo by Chris LopezHe’s the singer who became famous for the cover version of Walking In The Air from the animated film The Snowman. He’s also the man who sat alongside Lorraine Kelly on the early-morning ITV show Daybreak; a regular presenter on Songs Of Praise; a musical theatre actor; a part-time dancer; and a proud father and husband.

Apart from that he recently made his West End musical debut in White Christmas alongside Derbyshire actor Tom Chambers; had a stint presenting television entertainment programmes including Cash In The Attic and Escape To The Country; was the last person to be featured on This Is Your Life; and has the biggest regular audience on the radio station Classic FM.

The cute little boy has grown up into someone who can turn his hand to almost anything. Aled Jones has been a household name for nearly three decades. So who is the real Aled?

He chatted to me about his latest concert tour which will stop off at both Buxton and Newark. After only a couple of minutes I formed the opinion that he’s genuinely a decent bloke who is grateful for the talents he’s been given, doesn’t take himself too seriously and is self-deprecating as well as modest.

When I ask what he puts his success down to, he sounds genuinely embarrassed. He eventually replies: “If I was to quote my ‘radio dad’ Terry Wogan, who once gave me a bit of advice when we were both working in Radio 2, he said ‘Spread yourself as thinly as possible because it makes it difficult for people to get rid of you!’ So maybe that’s what I’m doing.”

Aled is in great demand. Days after our conversation he was off to sing at a few concerts in Australia – he can’t remember if this will be the fifth or sixth time he’s been Down Under – before flying back for 13 dates in the UK to promote his album The Heart Of It All.

So what can people expect to hear on the tour? “Basically a lot of music from the latest album which is quite kind of folky-type music. It’s my 30th album so it’s a mixture of everything from musical theatre to hymns to inspirational songs. It’s almost like a wrap-up of the last 30 years.”

“We broke box-office records and the theatre made something like six and a half million pounds in nine weeks, so take that, reviewers!”

Surprisingly Aled’s recording contract doesn’t stipulate that he has to tour. He does it because he wants to.

“Every 18 months or so I tend to get out on the road. I love it – it’s so different to the television and radio and everything I do throughout the year. It’s nice to go back to basics and do a bit of singing.”

Aled Jones was born in December 1970 in Bangor, Wales, the only child of a teacher and a draughtsman for a shipbuilder.

At the age of nine Aled joined the Bangor Cathedral choir and within two years was lead soloist. His unique, pure treble voice led to his being signed by a Welsh record company. His version of Walking In The Air reached number five in the UK charts in 1985.

Aled Jones press shots 2014 Photo by Chris LopezBy the time he “retired” when his voice broke at the age of 16, Aled had recorded 16 albums which sold more than six million copies and sung for Pope John Paul II, the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales.

When he left school Aled studied at the Royal Academy of Music and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Six weeks after completing his training he was cast by Andrew Lloyd Webber to play the lead in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

When I point out that many people don’t realise or have forgotten that Aled was trained in theatre and has played great parts such as Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he points out that all he wanted to do was to learn a craft.

“I was lucky enough to get into the Academy. Bristol Old Vic was fantastic. It was such a good place to go and they taught you every aspect of performing. I’m glad I went to both of those institutions.

“I’m lucky that I get opportunities to do musicals as well. I spent Christmas in the West End at the Dominion Theatre doing White Christmas. It was really great fun. I wouldn’t be able to commit to a year doing a musical, so being able to do nine or ten weeks is ideal really.”

It was the third time Aled had appeared in White Christmas and this was his West End debut in a musical. He appeared alongside Derbyshire actor Tom Chambers and they really hit it off.

“I’d never met him before and we got on really well. It was all good fun. It was hard work, though – eight shows a week and not many days off at Christmas. That aspect was quite hard but it’s a lovely musical to do. It sold out at the Dominion so we were very lucky.”

Some of the reviews weren’t particularly complimentary, but Aled doesn’t get fazed by them.

Aled Jones and Derbyshire actor Tom Chambers in the West End production of White Christmas

Aled Jones and Derbyshire actor Tom Chambers in the West End production of White Christmas

“Who cares? We broke box-office records and the theatre made something like six and a half million pounds in nine weeks, so take that, reviewers!”

Aled says every week is different for him and the only thing that’s constant is his Classic FM Sunday morning show which has more than a million listeners. Again he takes little credit for it.

“It’s the perfect Sunday morning thing. I play laid-back classics so it’s what people want to wake up to. I love doing it.”

For nearly two years Aled shared the early-morning sofa with Lorraine Kelly on ITV’s Daybreak – they replaced Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley – before leaving to host his own show, Weekend, every Saturday and Sunday morning. He now does that from April until October. For half of the year he also has a Sunday afternoon programme on Radio Wales as well as his Classic FM show.

There have been so many highlights for Aled. In 2004 he was voted religious broadcaster of the year and got to the semi-final of the second series of Strictly Come Dancing.

He was the last “victim” to be caught by Michael Aspel before This Is Your Life finished – “it was the first time in my life I’ve not been in control; it was very weird” and he was appointed an MBE for services to music, broadcasting and charitable services in the 2013 Queen’s birthday honours.

“I’ve never ever planned ahead or had a grand plan. I think that leads to disappointment, so I just see what happens.”

He is sincere when he tries to put into words the reason for his popularity.

“The only thing I really wanted to do was go to college and learn a craft. As least when the reviewers came out and said I was rubbish I was qualified rubbish! I didn’t want to bluff my way through.

“I’ve never ever planned ahead or had a grand plan. I think that leads to disappointment, so I just see what happens.”

Aled is one of the regular presenters on Songs Of Praise, so how big a part does faith play in Aled’s life?

“Well, it’s who I am. Singing in choirs altered my life. I love choral music. And even when I’m on tour the connection in the darkness singing hymns or You Raise Me Up or the inspirational songs – there’s always a kind of connection there as well.”

Family life

Aled married Claire Fossett in 2001 and they have two children, 13-year-old Emilia who has appeared in Doctor Who on television and in Shrek in the West End, and Lucas who is ten this year.

So how does singer, broadcaster, musical theatre actor, father and husband Aled fit everything in?

“With difficulty quite a lot of the time. I just get up in the morning and go for it, really. I’m very lucky to have all these different opportunities, so long may it last.”

* This article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Country Images magazine

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