If the pandemic was a film you’d say it’s too far fetched
Irish singing star Daniel O’Donnell chats to MARION McMULLEN about singing, soaps and staying connected to his fans
Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV. What is your strongest memory of taking part?
(LAUGHS and groans) Strictly was the best and worst thing I’ve ever done. The best part was the razzmatazz. I just love the show and had always watched it, but I was so nervous during it.
I remember being stuck there on the dance floor and not being able to remember the routine. I can dance and I come from a culture of going to the local dance.
(Laughs) I’m an organic dancer, and I guess I wasn’t good at doing a certain part at a certain time.
We set up a Whatsapp for all the group doing Strictly that year and we still keep in touch. Someone put up a picture of us all the other day saying ‘five years ago’.
If I hear the music I danced to on Strictly, in a shop, it can still make me stop walking. We had a lovely group, I’m sure every year it’s the same, but we all got on so well and we had so much fun.
You’ve said you’d also like to appear on Coronation Street one day. Is that still an ambition?
I DO love the show. I always have. I don’t know want I’d do, but I be happy to just stand in a corner. It wouldn’t matter.
Have you ever met your own musical idols?
I REMEMBER going to see Vera Lynn in 1989 and that really was a big thrill for me. She was terrific and I had always been a great fan of hers. I briefly got to meet her.
I sneaked through the stage door, which I shouldn’t have, and I had a picture taken with her. I have been so lucky that I have met so many people I love like Loretta Lynn or Charlie Pride. I had also admired Cliff Richard and was a fan of his long before I met him. I’ve got a good friendship with Cliff now and Lorreta came to do a TV show with me. I phoned her a few weeks ago to see how she was doing. I’m a fan of these people and now to get the chance to see them and go to their homes is quite surreal.
My wife Majella and I were supposed to be going to stay with Cliff earlier this year, but then lockdown happened.
You’ve been going online to lift spirits during the pandemic and are holding a virtual concert at the Millennium Forum Theatre in Derry to raise money for your musicians and crew. How have you and Majella been coping?
IF you saw this on a film or movie you would turn it off saying ‘It’s too far fetched that would never happen’ and it’s now our life. It’s
amazing really when you think of
the state of the world, the economy, what it has caused and what it is causing. I believe it will take two generations to recover.
I should have been on tour in Australia and New Zealand, but you’ve just got to look at the bigger picture. I sometimes look at the calendar and think ‘I would have been playing a concert now’.
I have been home in Donegal and going for walks and it is a beautiful place, but I can’t wait for next October when I can do a wee bit of something. I’ve been at home with my wife and doing things online on Facebook and I’ve been singing outside local hospitals for people.
It keeps you connected to the audience and there has been a great response.
Some people have been coming to my concerts for more than 30 years. I think this is the longest I’ve ever spent time at home. I come and go because of work and the most time I am normally here is two weeks. It’s amazing to have time to enjoy it.
Are you happy your new album, Daniel, is now out?
I’M very proud of it. I miss the singing and performing live is a big, big part of my life.
Majella and I go for walks in the countryside, but you do miss people and talking to everyone. If you meet anyone now you try and stay back and give everyone their space.
If I go to the shops I know everyone, but you have to stay away from them. You just go the shops and come home. It’s what people have to do now. It’s the best thing you can do.
Tickets for Daniel O’Donnell’s 2021 Back On The Road tour next October are now on sale. Go to danielodonnell.org for ticket and album details and information about his first live streaming concert.