His TV wedding to Kylie Minogue stopped the nation, but Jason Donovan’s real life love brought him back from the edge.
The former Neighbours heart throb, 52, is dominating British TV, appearing as a contestant on the wildly popular Dancing On Ice this month.
He celebrated 20 years with his wife Angela Malloch, who pulled him out of a dark place.
“Happy anniversary Ange … Couldn’t do it without you,” Donovan posted in a heartfelt message this week.
“Quite simply you are the most unselfish, committed, down to Earth loyal partner, mother and friend I could ever wish for. How lucky am I to have you by my side. Best friend ever! 20 years and still going strong.
“I love you (Ange) to infinity and beyond.”
The couple, who married in 2008, have three children, Jemma, 20, Zac, 19, and Molly, nine.
Jemma has followed in his footsteps and stars in Neighbours, which is still popular in the UK, where she plays Harlow Robinson.
Terence Donovan, Jason’s dad, played Doug Willis on the show for 26 years, while his half-sister Stephanie McIntosh has also been a long term fixture on Ramsay Street.
However, Donovan hit tough times in the 1990s following his success on Neighbours and a recording career that included four number one singles in Britain and 30 million worldwide album sales.
Donovan sued The Face magazine in 1992, for which he won more than $A500,000, for accusing him of being gay.
He did not take the money as it would have bankrupted the magazine, and years later tried to save it.
But the case made him a target of Fleet Street and set off a debate about whether being gay could be defamatory.
Donovan revealed in his autobiography that he was addicted to cocaine until Angela told him to clean up his act ahead of the birth of Jemma.
“Some people are sent to you for a reason. For me, that person was Ange,” Donovan said in an interview with The Mirror this month.
“Had it not been for her, I doubt I’d still be standing.”
One in eight Australians – two million – watched Donovan and Minogue’s TV wedding in 1988, while 20 million Brits tuned in – more one in every three people at the time.
That fame was hard to cope with for Donovan, who struggled despite a successful stint on the West End in Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat.
But he has managed to forge a five decade-long career just like Minogue, however he has done it on the stage and television, rather than stadium tours.
Mark Borkowski, a leading communications strategist in the UK, said Donovan’s down to earth attitude had kept him relevant.
“He didn’t run away from it, he faced up to it and we are still talking about him now,” he said.
“He got on with particularly the stage work and to do that and turn up night after night to face an audience takes a real dedication, you can’t hide from an audience every night.”
Mr Borkowski said Donovan would have a good chance of winning the ITV show, despite telling producers that he would not do dangerous stunts because he did not want to hurt himself.
“Jason Donovan was just so well known. His demographic will still have a soft spot for him,” he said.
Josh Piterman, an Australian who was playing the title character in The Phantom Of The Opera on the West End until coronavirus hit, said Donovan’s career was incredible, and often under appreciated.
“Jason played Joseph and then he came back and he’s done Pharoah, he’s gone full circle. To still be doing it after 20 years on the West End that’s to be applauded,” he said.
“People talk about Hugh Jackman going from Broadway and getting into Wolverine but doing 20 years on the West End, that’s impressive.”
Piterman said that the fitness that Donovan needed to keep performing was similar to an elite athlete.
“I’ve talked to AFL players who ask how can you be in that performance spotlight eight times a week,” he said.
“Just doing eight shows a week, it’s a certain kind of fitness.”
Jemma was stuck in Australia for Christmas because of coronavirus, but she said in a birthday message to her dad: “My best friend, life coach, aperol spritz lover, hypochondriac, obsessive cleaner, ski partner, general partner in crime and the coolest dad.
“You have given me so much love and happiness in my life. You’ve taught me everything I know. You’re the hardest worker, caring, generous, down to earth and I look up to you everyday. Everything I do I do for you.”