Jason Donovan saved a family from a house fire (in his pants) and then rescued an old lady who collapsed. But what makes the 52-year-old proudest of all? 'My little girl’s got a job on Neighbours Down Under... and I’m over the moon!'

For the headline writers, he is the gift that keeps on giving. Jason Donovan, still etched in our hearts as Scott from Neighbours, has been proving himself to be the neighbour we'd all love to have in real life.
Not once but twice in recent times he has dashed to the rescue of those who have needed help on his doorstep.
In September last year, he woke in the wee small hours to notice smoke pouring from the house opposite. He darted — in his underpants, mind, which we thought only happened in soaps — across the road, putting out the blaze with his own home's fire extinguishers.
His neighbours dubbed him 'the best neighbour in the history of the world'. The firefighters who attended gave him a very public thumbs-up too, tweeting about what happens when neighbours become good friends. 
You can imagine the headlines, too. 'No one had to think too far out of the box,' Jason laughs. 
Proud father Jason Donovan, 52, joined his daughter Jemma, 20, on the Ramsay Street set as she landed her first job in Neighbours
Proud father Jason Donovan, 52, joined his daughter Jemma, 20, on the Ramsay Street set as she landed her first job in Neighbours
Just a few weeks later an elderly woman collapsed in the street near his home while he was out for a jog. He immediately went to assist, sitting with the lady (in his shorts this time) until the emergency services arrived.
She came round in time to see that it was Jason Donovan who had saved her. She was a fan. 
'She did come to see me in a show afterwards, and came backstage, which was nice,' he admits. 'But none of it was a big deal. It just so happened that both these events occurred within a quarter of a mile of my home. I did what anyone would do. I hope someone would do the same for me.'
More publicity crazed stars might have taken advantage of these episodes. Jason, by contrast, seems rather embarrassed at all the hoo-ha. 
In the current climate, he says, it's a bit much to suggest he's a hero when 'the real heroes are the nurses and the policemen and the key workers, all those people who keep us safe.'
Still, with the pandemic we have all found ourselves living in an era when being a good neighbour has never been more important.
He says he has been awed by the sense of community in his own street. 'We have an elderly lady next door, so I've been checking on her, talking to people when I've been out and about, and I think the Clapping for Carers thing was one of the real positives to come out of all this.'
Jason celebrated his 52nd birthday in lockdown. He did it in a way which is very Jason Donovan-at-52. His family presented him with a Top Of The Pops cake, and a hedge-trimmer. I imagine he'd be delighted to lend it to any neighbour who doesn't have one. He's that sort of guy. He's very much the family man, too. He met his British wife Angela in 1998 and they have three children - Jemma, 20, Zach, 19, and Molly, nine.
This is the 2020 Jason Donovan; good husband, dad, public citizen, neighbour, hedge-trimmer owner.
It's a very different version to the 'good boy gone bad' of the mid-Nineties, when his drug binges were legendary; he reportedly suffered a drug-induced seizure and collapsed at Kate Moss's 21st birthday party at the notorious Viper Room in Los Angeles. There was an astonishing anecdote, too, about him collapsing on Jack Nicolson's shoulder.
It's hard to reconcile this version of Jason with the one that went before. While his son Zach, a politics student at Edinburgh University, has been back home during lockdown, eldest daughter Jemma is in Australia. She landed her first job as an actress on — you guessed it — Neighbours.
Some might forgive Jason for being a bit fearful about his daughter wanting to follow in his rather hazard-strewn footsteps, but he isn't at all. 
'I know what a great start it will give her. You worry about your children finding a passion in life, but she knows what she wants to do, which is half the battle. And what better place to start.
'This show has been going for 30, 40 years. No show in the history of Australia has lasted that long, and I'm extremely proud of what it gave me. She's doing well so far. She's smashing it. We still have family out there too [his father is in Melbourne] and she has an Australian passport, so it's kind of a second home.'
Yes, Jemma's character is related to the one he played. Even he isn't entirely sure how to untangle the convoluted soap family trees, but she might play Scott's grand-niece 'although I'm not entirely sure how they are related' who is attached to a British branch of the family. 
'She has a British accent in it,' he confirms. In 1988, 20million British viewers tuned in to watch Jason Donovan marry Kylie Minogue on Neighbours (pictured)
In 1988, 20million British viewers tuned in to watch Jason Donovan marry Kylie Minogue on Neighbours (pictured)
Jason's is an astonishing showbiz story. He came to fame ('I never wanted the fame. I only ever wanted to perform,' he says today) as a fresh-faced teenager in the iconic Aussie soap, which was fast developing cult status in the UK.
His actor father had been in Neighbours, and he stepped into the industry with no lofty ambitions about where it would take him. 
He says: 'I'd watched my dad, and actors like him, struggle to get work. Only one per cent of actors make enough to support themselves.'
Yet his was a rare success story. In 1988, 20 million British viewers watched him marry Kylie Minogue (Charlene Mitchell to his Scott Robinson). 
This week Twitter has been agog that Scott and Charlene have just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary.
The fact the love-birds were dating in real life captured public attention. From Neighbours they landed in the UK, with pop moguls Stock, Aitken and Waterman determined to make them music stars, too. It worked — until Kylie left Jason for the late rock star Michael Hutchence.
Jason's life took a colourful turn, in all senses. Professionally, he was on a high. Andrew Lloyd Webber spotted his potential and cast him in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 1991, which gave him his third solo UK No1 with Any Dream Will Do.
But he wasn't wearing his success easily, and being so publicly dumped for an apparently cooler model was excruciating.
By the mid-Nineties the golden boy was bingeing on cocaine. He credits Angela with helping him clean up his life. She was a stage manager and they met while he was performing in The Rocky Horror Show in 1998.
'There was this opportunity to change, and I took it. I fell in love with her, met my best friend really. She was strong. I put my old address book to one side and I tried to invent a new world, and thank God I did.'
He and Kylie, however, remained good friends. He went to her 50th birthday party in 2018, a night described by David Walliams as 'the best party ever', something Jason agrees with. 'It was fantastic. She was on great form and it was fantastic seeing people I hadn't seen in years.'
It must be odd — if not annoying — to be consistently asked about Kylie Minogue when she belonged in a very old chapter of his life.
But he understands. 'I know people are fascinated. I absolutely get it, but that was a long time ago and so much has happened in my life. Of course we keep in touch, though. She's a wonderful person, an incredible artist and a friend. What we achieved together was incredible.'
It seems ironic, however, that in the end Jason's personal life turned out to be the more conventional, settled one. How do you set children on the right path in life, though, when your path has meandered somewhat?
He says his mantra to them has been 'work hard, find your passion, respect others'. But mostly 'work hard'. Even at his wildest, he says, he still pitched up for work, and it was his work ethic that lifted him up.
This week, Twitter has been agog that Scott and Charlene (above), Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan's Neighbours characters, have just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary
This week, Twitter has been agog that Scott and Charlene (above), Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan's Neighbours characters, have just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary
He's sold more than 13 million albums, had success in musicals including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sweeney Todd, and enjoyed profile-raising appearances on I'm A Celebrity in 2006 and 2011's Strictly Come Dancing.
He would be on tour now if not for the lockdown. He can't wait to get back on stage. 'I've never lost the buzz. That's the thing you worry about your children not finding — a buzz for something they love.'
He says his best advice to his kids is that they shouldn't take themselves too seriously, and be prepared for life's curveballs. 'I've told them they can have a bit of fun along the way, but they've got to be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.'
What if their mistakes include, as his did, drugs? 'I've always been very open about all the things I've done. As a family we are very open.
'The best thing about that time is that I now know in my life what I don't want to do, and isn't it wonderful to be able to teach your kids that?'
Not that he could hide his past exploits even if he wanted to. A quick Google reveals all. 'It's not an era where you can hide, but I don't mind. As long as I've come through it and have had a positive outcome.'
He's not one of those parents who, on the issue of drugs, says a stern 'don't do it, kids'.
'You'd be stupid if you did,' he says. 'But I hope I've educated my kids to make the right choices, to respect their family and friends, and their bodies and health.'
He jogs most mornings and says discovering exercise, and its role as a stress alleviator, has been one of his great savours. 'My dad is 85 now, and still out there swimming laps in the pool every day. That's my goal.'
There was also a time when Jason Donovan was embarrassed about being Jason Donovan. He understands that drive — ultimately self-destructive — to turn yourself into something you are not.
'There were times where I wanted to reverse my image, change the perception. It happens to many artists, they want to rebel, and for better or worse, that's what I did.'
Now he can say he is proud of every minute. Even the cheesy pop songs? Especially the cheesy pop songs!
'The cool music press never embraced them but how can you ignore 200 million people. It is frothy pop but it appeals to millions. The cool music press thought Abba were a waste of time because they weren't talking about politics.
'But how many people smile when they hear Dancing Queen? I'm very proud that my songs have stood the test of time, too. Pop is wonderful, but it should be light. We need lightness at the moment. More than ever, we need it.'

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