Jimmy Osmond is coming to the Albans Arena on March 6 with his show Moon River & Me - A Tribute to Andy Williams.

Here James Rampton speak to him to find out more…

You celebrated your 50th Anniversary in show business in 2016 with the hugely successful show A Tribute to Andy Williams – Moon River & Me and you are bringing it back to the UK in 2018.  Andy Williams obviously represents someone very special in your life?

I began my performing career aged three singing with Andy Williams on his television series.  My brothers were already on the show, so I started working with them when I was very young. I was the little guy who’d run on and be goofy. We ended up as regulars on the show and singing on records like Aquarius.

What was your role on the show?

In those early days, I was the novelty guy, like a mascot. I was the kid brother that everyone liked to slag off. I was the obnoxious boy in the corner. Even in our cartoon TV series, I was the bad apple. But after a lot of therapy, I’ve come to terms with it!

Why was Andy Williams’ TV show so iconic?

It was that era’s version of a Variety Show.  In the UK you had Sunday Night At The London Palladium and in the US we had The Andy Williams’ Show, which featured weekly comedy skits and one recurring comedy sketch involving Andy’s encounters with ‘The Cookie Bear’.  The show also featured major guest stars including Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope.   It was a brilliant production.   We were in it for four seasons.  Variety does seem to be making a comeback which is fantastic as there is so much talent out there.

Do you enjoy performing A Tribute To Andy Williams – Moon River & Me?

I love it. It’s not about me – it’s about Andy Williams and his music. I perform songs like Music To Watch Girls By, Happy Heart, Speak Softly Love and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and of course Moon River.

Tell us more about that…

The Williams’ family has very kindly allowed me to use clips of Andy featuring everyone from Dick Van Dyke to John Wayne and Bobby Darin, you name it. When I start singing, “You’re just too good to be true”, you’ll see it being performed by Andy on the video walls. And when I do Love Story, Andy sings it with me on the big screen. It brings back great memories for thousands of people.

What else does the show contain?

I do a section of Osmonds’ material – Love Me For a Reason, Crazy Horses and Let Me In. I also do a comedy section. During A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock’n’Roll, I put masks of Donny and Marie on people from the audience, so I can get back at my siblings!

Tell us about your special guest on this show, Charlie Green?

I first saw Charlie on Britain’s Got Talent.  He is amazing and is popular with Andy Williams’ fans but also has a young fan base as well.   It would be hard to find anyone who would represent Andy’s legacy so well.  I am very excited about Charlie.   Andy’s brothers saw him perform in Branson, Missouri at the Andy Williams Theatre and fell in love with him.   Andy’s manager said ‘He is the closest thing to Andy I have ever seen’ - now that is an endorsement if ever I heard one.    I am very close to Andy’s family and whenever they turn up to one of my shows I realise what a huge responsibility it is and I never want this man to be forgotten.

What do you think made Andy so special as a performer?

He had such a smooth voice. You could tell he was a genuinely nice guy. I say, “Please don’t think I could ever sound like him, but let’s celebrate his melodies together.” The show is coming from a sincere place. There are not many people who could pull it off because they wouldn’t have that connection with Andy.

How do you feel when you sing Andy’s most memorable songs, especially his universally adored “theme tune”, Moon River?

I’ve worked my whole life in showbiz - I remember my mom changing my outfits three times on Andy’s show – and I have such fond memories. When you sing a wonderful song so many times, it takes you back to your memories of growing up. These songs remind me of performing in Las Vegas not just with Andy, but also with Frank Sinatra and Elvis.

What do you remember about working with Elvis?

We shared a dressing room at the Las Vegas Hilton. So my parents thought it would be cute for me to do a number dressed as Elvis. But one night I was sick on stage. The problem was that the food was free for performers, and I was a precocious kid ordering orange freezies and grilled cheese sandwiches like they were going out of fashion. I threw up all over the front row. My brothers picked me up and I kept going. But then I saw that Elvis was watching from the lighting box, and I was mortified about it.

How did Elvis react?

He was great about it. He was so friendly.   In the dressing room, I’d see his jumpsuits and try on his shoes. He’d say to me, ‘All right, little guy.’  We knew the stars as people who put their pants on one leg at a time. But those things will never leave me. They’re burnt into my memory.

You have always had a special relationship with British audiences. Can you put this into words?

I’m so surprised the fans have stuck with us. But I’m delighted by their loyalty, especially in this country. For me it’s special in the UK because it is not just about me being an Osmond. It’s about me being me. I’ve done reality TV shows in the UK and that has put me out there. It’s just for fun and not to sell anything. The British public like that. They like people who can laugh at themselves. And there’s a lot to laugh at if you look at my history!

When you look back over your marvellous career, is it possible to pick out the highlights?

I have performed for The Queen twice.  On one occasion, I had to sing that “unmentionable song”!!!!  I can remember it clearly as I was standing in the line after the show next to Roger Moore and Liza Minnelli and as The Queen approached me I said ‘Hello, Mrs Queen’.  I think she saw the funny side!!   Much later on in life we had just lost our mother and we were performing once again at the Royal Variety Show – this time in Scotland.   Coming down the line The Queen stopped in front of me and remembered my mom who had previously presented her with a copy of The Book of Mormon.   I was really touched – what an amazing memory and so much compassion.  One of those moments you never forget.   Another highlight was Las Vegas with Elvis – just fabulous.

You have appeared in a lot of musicals over the years. Do you have a favourite?

Chicago is my favourite because it’s so grown up. It’s a bit naughty for me, but I got used to wearing stockings and suspenders!!    When I was originally asked to do the show I had a couple of meetings with the producer David Ian who very kindly agreed to make a couple of small changes to it during my run.   I really had a ball doing it and made some great friends on the tour.

You wrote and illustrated a successful semi-autobiographical children's picture book, Awesome Possum Family Band. What prompted that?

The problem for today’s kids is a lack of self-esteem. I’m very conscious about that with my own children. So when I got asked to write a book I said, ‘I’m going to write it about my life, but I’ll try to make it positive.’  It was about a family of possums. All of them were accomplished, but the littlest one didn’t get it and was trying to find his place. I made all of the possums wear flares like The Osmonds! I’m the ninth child, and the book was about possum number nine. You may be one of many, but you can still make a difference. In the end, we all have value. Teachers have since used it to motivate children. To write an autobiography would be boring, but that way I could make my story more fun and interesting.

Watford Observer:

You are also a very talented caricature artist. How did you start doing that?

When I was young, we were on tour in the UK. Back in those crazy days, the crowds of fans were so huge, we couldn’t even stay in a hotel – we had to stay in a private house. We had police around us all the time to protect us from the crowds. I remember being taken off the tour and rushed onto a plane with a policeman. I was sitting waiting for everyone else, and the bobby drew half a character. He said to me, “You do the other half”. I did it and he said, “Hey, you’re quite good at this!” I was just eight, but he inspired me.

You were tremendous on I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! People loved you, particularly when you smuggled in contraband inside a teddy bear. Did you have a good time on the show?

I loved it. Although they cut out a lot of the stuff that I did. I can’t help it, but I sing all the time. My wife calls me the little jukebox. I just can’t stop! The producers of I’m a Celebrity didn’t want to pay the clearance fees, so in the jungle we wrote our own songs.

Tickets available from jimmyosmond.com