Aled Jones talks to Kevin Cooper about his chair on The Weekend Show, receiving his MBE, that Christmas song and his forthcoming performance with Timothy Redmond at the Last Night Of The Proms at Clumber Park.
Aled Jones MBE is a Welsh singer, best known for his television and radio work with Radio 2. Having joined the ITV Breakfast Show in September 2012, he now hosts his own show called The Weekend Show.
He became famous for the cover version of ‘Walking In The Air’, the song from Channel 4’s 1982 animated film, The Snowman. By the time that his voice broke at the age of 16, he had recorded 16 albums, sold more than 6 million albums and sung for The Pope John Paul II and the Queen.
His theatrical career has led him to roles in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and White Christmas.
Whilst preparing for his forthcoming appearance at Clumber Park, for The Last Night Of The Proms, he took time out to chat with Kevin Cooper. This is what he had to say:
Hi Aled how are you today?
Hiya Kevin not bad at all thanks.
Firstly let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
Hey listen it’s an absolute pleasure.
How is life treating you?
Everything is good; I’m busy with the Weekend Show every Saturday and Sunday morning, and Classic FM Radio. I’m also in the studio at the moment recording a new album, so it’s pretty busy.
On the subject of the Weekend Show, just how comfortable is that metal chair?
(Hysterical laughter) It’s very comfortable. Everyone talks about that metal chair Kevin. Some people even say that it looks like I have got two lobster pots next to me but it’s really comfy actually. I like my chair (laughter).
You are performing at the Last Night of the Proms at Clumber Park, what can we expect?
I am really looking forward to it. I have done a couple of these open air ones this year all ready and luckily the weather has been pretty good so hopefully it will be the same. It will as always be a Last Night of the Proms extravagancer. There will be the big orchestra involved, and I’m singing a couple of songs, stuff like You Raise Me Up as well as all the old favourites; everyone will wave their flags and get drunk (laughter).
I was fortunate enough to cover last year’s event with Russell Watson and I have to say that with the sun setting and the right weather you couldn’t ask to perform in a better place.
I have heard that Kevin. The thing with these events is that everyone comes to them wanting to have a good time and it sort of brings communities together and that’s the whole idea. They simply become part of the atmosphere.
You have got a hard act to follow as Status Quo are kicking the weekend off on the Friday night.
Good on them; I know the boys from Status Quo really well. They tend to do a lot of these open air events but we never ever get together because they are always there the day before me.
Have you worked with the conductor for the evening, Timothy Redmond before?
Yes I have. We have done two open air concerts this season together and he is a really lovely man. He is really easy to get on with and we usually have a bit of banter onstage (laughter). Hopefully it should be a very special evening.
Singing, acting, presenting, which do you prefer?
Well I suppose the one that I have done all of my life is singing so that’s number one but followed very closely by presenting. Those are my main jobs; the presenting keeps me going all through the week, the briefs for the Weekend Show will start coming in on Tuesday so that keeps me really busy. The nice thing about not doing morning TV every day is that these days it does open it up for me to record albums, and also I’m doing a musical at Christmas. I would never have been able to do that before, so that will be eight weeks where I will be on stage for eight shows per week.
You were awarded the MBE in 2013, how did that make you feel?
Old (hysterical laughter) and to be honest with you it was a complete surprise because I never ever thought that I would get anything like that. It was unbelievable going to Buckingham Palace to receive the award and it was Prince Williams first time so the whole day was just unbelievable. It was just so exciting. It felt like I must have been around for a very long time (laughter).
When I mentioned this to Francis Rossi he, like you, said that they must be getting old but he also said that by giving it to two old farts out of Status Quo it keeps the profile raised and that is what the organisers are aiming to do.
Really, oh my goodness (laughter) well all that I can say is that I’m not quite as old as him.
Who has inspired you?
That’s a good question Kevin. I don’t know, lots of people in different walks of life really. There have been lots of people musically of course in teachers in college and stuff like that. Presenting wise I always say Terry Wogan because he’s the best really. I always used to joke when I was on Radio 2 that he was my radio dad because I have known him since I was 11 years old. I have learnt a hell of a lot from him. I even got to sing with the old bugger as well which is always good fun (laughter). So Terry is definitely an inspiration as far as presenting is concerned. I have been lucky enough to meet all of the presenting greats, people like (Michael) Parkinson and people like that so you learn from all of them really.
Which artist would you like to record with?
To be perfectly honest with you Kevin I never make these sorts of plans because if it happens it happens. I never sit down and think that I would like to do a duet with them, so there is no one really who jumps out at me. I tend to just see what happens. There are lots of musicians who I love which is one of the reasons that I really enjoy doing the Weekend Show because lots of the acts that we get on the show haven’t quite broken through yet, people like The Shires. They are amazing singers and amazing musicians. So I will just see what happens as I never sit down and plan that sort of thing.
What single event would you say change your life forever?
I don’t know (hysterical laughter). You know I don’t think that there has been one single event that has changed my life. Bringing up my children of course changed my life but there is two of them so that’s two occasions (laughter). I would have to say that there isn’t one single event that has changed my life. I suppose that my voice breaking definitely changed my life but there we go.
Have you got a single ambition yet to achieve?
To win Wimbledon but I don’t think that it is going to happen (laughter) unfortunately.
I can’t speak to you without mentioning “that” record.
Oh yes, I know the one.
Do you ever tire of hearing it?
No, listen there is no getting away from it. When I was at school and at college people used to take the mickey all of the time or sing it constantly and even now people in the street sometimes burst into “were walking in the air” thinking that it is going to have some massive effect upon me. Now I look back on it like a proud grandfather, but when I was a kid it was pretty tough at school and at college and especially at Christmas time when I would go into the shops and it would be playing, but now I just tend to get my head down and get on with it. There is no escaping it (laughter).
I asked Jimmy Osmond the same question about Long Haired Lover From Liverpool and he simply said that you may as well just embrace it because it’s not going anywhere.
Well exactly Kevin. I saw Jimmy a couple of weeks ago and I totally agree with him that there is no getting away from it. I’m lucky really that it’s a good song; there are a lot of worse songs that I could be associated with so I just get on with it. Even my kids when they were younger, although they know better now, would be walking around Homebase and the song would come on and they would both start giggling and pointing at me (laughter). It’s just one of those things isn’t it, that every Christmas it will be around but how lucky am I that that’s the case really.
But unfortunately Christmas has got longer and longer in the UK and they will probably be playing it from July to December.
(Hysterical laughter) you know that’s right Kevin, you are absolutely right.
What next for Aled Jones?
Well I am going to finish the album. I will be doing the Weekend Show until the end of September when we come off air until the New Year, although I think that there are a couple of Christmas specials that we are doing. I’ve got the musical starting in October which runs until January and then the Weekend Show will be back hopefully in the New Year. I’ve got Classical FM every Sunday morning and Radio Wales every Sunday afternoon, Songs of Praise of course and then I’ve got a tour of the UK in October which runs until March. The tour will be about all of the new music and the album.
Do you have a release date for the new album?
Yes it’s being released the 10th November. It’s a lot more guitar based and folk music this time around. I have only recorded half of it so far but I have really enjoyed it and its new music as well. There are a couple of songs that people will know of course but a lot of it will be songs that people won’t know, but they are songs that really suit me and I have had a really good time recording them.
Can I just say that from a personal point of view I feel that you have made Songs of Praise your own. You have settled into that role fantastically.
Oh bless your heart Kevin, thank you. You know that I really enjoy doing it. I don’t do as many as I used to now just because when I had the Daybreak contract it wasn’t possible to do nearly anything else but now maybe I will start doing a few more. The ones that I do are generally once a month and I do really enjoy them. The programmes are made really well and great care is taken over them. So yes I am really lucky to be involved with that.
Good luck with everything that you turn your hand to.
Thanks very much Kevin, it’s been nice to talk to you.
I am photographing the Proms at Clumber Park so I hope that it doesn’t rain.
Me too. I will smile nicely, I promise (Laughter).
Aled, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Thanks Kevin, it’s been lovely to talk to you. Bye.