‘Life is for living’: Jane McDonald reflects on love and loss after the death of her partner Eddie Rothe

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She’s called it a “blast” and we couldn’t agree with her more that Jane McDonald’s BAFTA award winning series Cruising has been brilliant fun from start to finish.

But the singer and former Loose Women panellist has now decided to call it a day as she brings us the final ever series of the hit show.

Jane, 58, has suffered huge heartbreak this year herself after losing her fiancé, drummer Eddie Rothe, to cancer in March. The pair had first dated as teenagers, before reuniting almost 30 years later and announcing their engagement in 2008.

A decade earlier, Jane had married Danish engineer Henrik Brixen. Viewers watched their whirlwind romance blossom on documentary series The Cruise, but their lives were very different, and the marriage ended in 2003.

Now, as she talks about the final run of her series, which sees Jane on both a Caribbean cruise and on a trip along the Thames with friends, it’s clear the bubbly star is determined to make the most of life, even if it won’t include her beloved Ed…

Hi Jane! These are the last Cruising shows. Will you still go cruising?

Oh, without a doubt. Cruising is in my blood. It has made me everything I am. But it will be nice to sleep in and have breakfast in my room. Filming the show, I’m up at 5.30am every morning to get ready for everything we have to film in one day.

You look like you had fun…

What’s not to love? I go on holiday and take a camera crew. That’s me really. I get excited when I get out the front door, love! I‘m at that age now where I only do things that I really enjoy, and that’s a great place to be.

You took a trip along the Thames. Did it mean a lot doing that with friends?

To take my closest friends on such an amazing trip was very emotional. If we know anything about what has happened in this past year, it’s that life is too short. We all think, “I’d better not spend that.” But I tell you something, I am going to spend a lot and I am going to have the best time because you just don’t know when you are going to be able to do it again. This has taught me that life is for living.

You start your Caribbean cruise in Fort Lauderdale and say it’s one of your favourite places. Why?

I met Henrik, my ex-husband, in Fort Lauderdale. That’s where we had our house and I’ve got great memories. My marriage didn’t work out, but we had a good time while we were together.

You had a quick stop in the Everglades. What was it like riding on an airboat?

They don’t half put their foot down. You’re off and you’re thinking, “I’m going to die!” But you don’t, obviously. There are 200,000 alligators living there, and it’s half the size of Yorkshire!

We often see you relaxing with a cocktail. Do you have a favourite?

Yes, a Cosmopolitan. And I like to try all the different Martinis. One night me and my friend Sue went through the whole Martini menu. That was a messy night, but it was good fun!

There’s also a royal touch to the show, with you visiting Windsor and Hampton Court Palace…

I have always been a fan of the royals. The Queen has been the most consistent thing in my life.

And your trip to Hampton Court Palace included a game of tennis dressed as Henry VIII…

I do love an outfit! I’ve never played tennis in my life, but I wish I’d done it years ago! You just hit the ball, don’t you? It was really good fun.

How do you look back on this part of your career?

What a blast, just what a blast. We have travelled all over the world, eaten amazing food… How many people jump off the Sky Tower in New Zealand? Not many! But it’s the people that I remember more than anything.

Cruising With Jane McDonald starts Sunday at 9pm on Channel 5

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