RUSSELL Watson returns to Wirral later this year for a special concert as part of his new UK tour.
The acclaimed tenor and recent star of ITV reality show I’m a celebrity, get me out of here is at Thornton Manor on September 15th.
Looking forward to his first show at this historic venue, Salford-born Russell – who has performed for the Queen and the late Pope John Paul II among many others – told the World this afternoon: “Thornton Manor is a great place, I can’t wait to get there.
“It’s a one-off series of concerts as part of the UK tour, which ends in December, so it’s a very busy time.
“This type of venue is perfect for the show. I can’t wait.
“After a long absence from the stage after 18 horrible months, it’s great to finally be back in front of an audience.
“I started recently with a few charity concerts; the first real performance was at Studley Castle. It was a great night. People seemed really eager to be a part of a live audience.”
Former bolt cutter has gone on the path to classical music stardom after being discovered singing Nessun Dorma in a workers’ club and made his debut in 2001.
The 54-year-old said he never imagined he would one day become one of the world’s hottest tenors, selling more than seven million albums worldwide.
His first album, The voice, simultaneously occupied number one slots in the UK and America. He spent a record 52 weeks at number 1 in the UK.
He also won four classic BRITS.
He has performed for some of the world’s greatest figures, including the Queen, the late Pope John Paul II – who requested a private audience with Russell at the Vatican – and former US President Bill Clinton.
He has also worked with Pavarotti, Lionel Richie, Sir Cliff Richard and American rocker Meatloaf.
Russell was the fifth campmate to leave the I’m A Celebrity 2020 castle in December, after a double vote.
Her campmates were Paralympian Hollie Arnold MBE, Coronation Street‘s Beverley Callard, journalist and presenter Victoria Derbyshire, Sir Mo Farrah, vlogger (and series winner) Giovanna Fletcher, West End star Ruthie Henshall, Radio One’s Jordan North, ex-EastEnders stars Jessica Plumber and Shane Richie, Come dance strictly star AJ Pritchard and TV presenter Vernon Kay.
On his experience on the show, Russell said: “It was a fantastic time; one of the best times of my life. The surreal thing was I was next to Sir Mo Farrah. I met people. really nice people, who became real friends.
“It got to the situation where I just wanted fish and chips and peas, because you would lose so much weight through the challenges.”
Looking back on his career, the artist, who lives in Manchester, said: “I’ve had ups and downs, there have been millions of albums sold and ones that haven’t gone as well. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities that I have been given.
“It’s good to come from a working-class background. I remember working 12 hours in a factory. I always kept my roots in the Northwest.”
Recalling the time he performed in front of the Pope, he said: “It was probably my proudest moment and it takes a few hits.
“I remember going out on stage; the orchestra was big, there were 110 musicians on stage, a choir of 500 and cardinals in red behind me.
“I just remember looking around and thinking ‘crickey, this time three years ago I was performing at a men’s working club in Wigan.’ It was surreal.”
In 2005, Watson started having headaches. An MRI revealed he had a pituitary adenoma, a benign but aggressive brain tumor, which was removed on the eve of his 40th birthday.
He returned a year later and had hemorrhages in four places.
Russell was half-conscious when he was rushed to hospital and if it hadn’t been for a seven-hour operation he would have died.
Regarding two potentially fatal brain tumors, he recently said: “It sounds like a cliché, but surviving cancer gives you a chance to re-evaluate your life, especially after I was told, after the second tumor, that I was lucky to be alive.
“Over the next seven years, I have been able to watch my children grow up and truly experience the joys of life.”
Looking to the future, he said: “As far as work is concerned, I have reservations until the end of next year.
“I still have a lot more to give, I still have the ambition to do more.
“I would like to do musical theater and try my hand at theater.”