Jane McDonald on late friend Lynda Bellingham: ‘I owe such a lot to her’

Singer and travel presenter Jane McDonald has said she thinks her late friend, TV star Lynda Bellingham, is still “guiding us all in our own ways”.

McDonald, 61, best known for her TV series Cruising With Jane McDonald, as well as her long stint on Loose Women, has spoken about their friendship and said she “owes such a lot” to Bellingham.

Actress and broadcaster Bellingham died in October 2014 aged 66 and was famously known for her long-running role as a mother in the Oxo TV adverts.

National Television Awards 2010 – Show – London
Jane McDonald and Lynda Bellingham with other Loose Women presenters Andrea Mclean, Zoe Tyler, Carol McGiffin, Coleen Nolan, Kate Thornton, Denise Welch, Leslie Garrett and Lisa Maxwell (Ian West/PA)

She had been battling colon cancer, which later spread to her lungs and liver.

Speaking on Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time podcast, McDonald said: “I owe such a lot to Lynda because she asked me to take over her Birmingham panto for that year when she was poorly.

“Thank goodness I did because through that I got Cats, then through Cats and getting the vocal training that I did, that’s when my voice changed, and I went on to be able to sing just about anything – that’s all through Lynda.

“So I still think Lynda’s guiding us all in our own ways…”.

The pair became good friends through appearing on the panel show Loose Women.

McDonald also spoke about her long-term partner Eddie Rothe, who died aged 67 in 2021 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

She said: “I’ll always be grateful to Lynda for guiding me a little bit because she was the first person that interviewed Ed for the job as my boyfriend. She says ‘I need to see this guy’, and the first thing she said to him, ‘what are your intentions to my friend?'”.

McDonald and Rothe, best known for being part of the 1960s band The Searchers, first dated as teenagers but later drifted apart.

The couple rekindled their romance 27 years later after a chance meeting at the ITV studios in 2008 when Rothe was performing on This Morning and a set make-up artist convinced McDonald to reconnect with him after the show.

She said: “We had the best 13 years. I think that’s why I’m in such a good place now, because I had the best time with that man, and I am blessed to have had that time with Ed”.

Revealing she had previously planned to retire with Rothe after lockdown, she added: “So everything that I’m doing now, Kate, I think is a gift. He was a very, very special partner and not many people can say they’ve had that absolute love”.

Starting in October this year McDonald will be embarking on her With All My Love 2024 Tour.

Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time podcast is available to listen to on all podcast platforms.