Jason Sean Donovan (born 1 June 1968) is an Australian actor and singer. He initially achieved fame in the Australian soap Neighbours, playing Scott Robinson, before beginning a career in music in 1988. In the UK he has sold over 3 million records. His debut album Ten Good Reasons was the highest-selling album in the UK in 1989, with sales of over 1.5 million. He has had four UK No. 1 singles, one of which was “Especially for You“, his 1988 duet with fellow Neighbours co-star Kylie Minogue. He has also appeared in several stage musicals, most prominently in the lead role of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the early 1990s.
Jason Donovan was born in the Melbourne suburb Malvern, Victoria. He is the son of Australian actress Sue McIntosh (née Menlove) and British-born veteran stage and television actor Terence Donovan (who also appeared in Neighbours) who has English and Irish heritage. Following his parents’ separation and divorce, his father was awarded full custody of him in 1973 and brought him up on his own. Donovan has had no contact with his mother since the divorce. He attended De La Salle College Malvern.
Donovan made his first television appearance at age 11 in a guest role on the Australian series Skyways in 1980. In the episode, his on-screen sister was played by future Neighbours co-star Kylie Minogue. He also appeared in the series I Can Jump Puddles (1981) and Golden Pennies (1985) before entering the cast of Neighbours in 1986 as Scott Robinson (replacing actor Darius Perkins, who had played the role for the first year of the series). His character’s story arcs included an onscreen romance and wedding to Charlene Mitchell (played by Minogue), and helped boost the show’s popularity with British as well as Australian audiences.
He won his first Logie Award for “Best New Talent” in 1987 and received a commendation in the category “Performance by a Male Actor In a Series” from the Television Society of Australia‘s Penguin Awards. In 1988 he was awarded the Silver Logie for the “Most Popular Actor” on Australian television.
In addition to his regular role in Neighbours, Donovan appeared as “Happy Houston” in the 1988 Australian World War II mini-series The Heroes, based on the historical novel by Ronald McKie. He won the 1990 Logie Award for “Most Popular Actor in a Mini-Series”.
Donovan left Neighbours in 1989. Twenty years later, he said that he had been asked to return to tie in with the show’s 25th anniversary in 2010, but was unable to do so due to other work commitments.
While he was still appearing in Neighbours, Donovan followed Minogue (who had already left the series by this point) in signing a recording contract with Mushroom Records in Australia, and with PWL in the UK. His first single, “Nothing Can Divide Us”, was released in 1988. Like Minogue’s material, it was written and produced by the production team of Stock Aitken Waterman. The single reached number five in the UK.
Donovan’s next single was a duet with Minogue. “Especially for You” was released in December 1988, and after spending four weeks at No. 2 in the UK, it hit No. 1 in January 1989. It was the fourth-highest selling single in the UK in 1988, and 17th in Australia for 1989.
His next single, “Too Many Broken Hearts“, reached number one in the UK in March 1989. He released his début album, Ten Good Reasons, in May 1989, which also reached number one (for three weeks). For two weeks, Donovan held the number one positions in the singles chart and the albums chart simultaneously, when his next single, a cover of Brian Hyland‘s “Sealed With a Kiss“, entered the UK charts at number one.
In December 1989, he took part in Band Aid II‘s version of “Do They Know it’s Christmas“, which also included Minogue, whose exit from Neighbours had by now been shown on screen in both Australia and the UK. His own exit from the show had by this stage been shown on Australian television, although it was not aired on British television until several months later.
Donovan released his second album, Between The Lines, in May 1990, again produced by Stock Aitken Waterman. Although the album reached Platinum status in the UK, it was less successful than his debut a year before, peaking at no. 2 and selling only a fifth as many copies. Five singles were released from the album, and although they all reached the UK Top 30, they also signalled a decline in his popularity. Between 1988 and 1992, Donovan garnered 16 Top 40 hit singles in the UK.
He embarked on an extensive world tour in 1990, The “Doin’ Fine Tour”. It covered the UK, Ireland, mainland Europe, Australia, Singapore and other parts of South East Asia. The Dublin concert was recorded and released on VHS in 1990; and released on DVD in 2010.
Donovan continued to act alongside his pop career, and in 1990 he appeared in his first feature film, Blood Oath (released in some countries as Prisoners of the Sun).