Jeff Brazier: ‘I’d like a Stavros Flatley act!’

Jeff Brazier is fronting GMTV’s new summer series Britain’s No1 Family, an X Factor-style search for a musical family group like the Nolans, Bee Gees or even the Von Trapps! Here, Jeff tells us more…

Jeff, can you tell us a bit about the competition and the audition process?

“It’s a search for a singing family group of between two and eight members – and they’ve got to be part of the same family, whether through blood or marriage. Any performer must be five or older, but there’s no upper age limit. I’ll be travelling round the country covering the auditions as live links.”

What sort of families are you expecting to show up and which style of music do you think might dominate?

“When we looked back at the history of famous family groups, the well known ones were the Bee Gees, the Nolans, the Jackson Five and the like – and they’re all from a few decades ago, so there’s a real gap in the market at the moment. So what we’re going to get is quite a modern version. I’d love to see some older people get involved. It would be lovely to see retired husbands and wives singing together.”

Will there be professional singers as well as amateurs?

“The prize is a recording contract with Universal Records, an album deal and a single to go out at Christmas. The rules say you have to be signed to Universal Records and there can’t be any outstanding contract so therefore it will be open to amateurs and not professionals who are already signed with record labels.”

The competition is well-timed for the kids’ summer holidays when the GMTV audience is likely to be a lot younger…

“Because it’s the summer holidays, l imagine more families will have the time to sit there in the morning cheerily chomping on their cornflakes watching the families taking part. It’s all good fun.”

Are the competitors going to be playing instruments or with background music like on The X Factor?

“At the auditions you sing without any backing. Then as we get further along the stages they’ll be accompanied by a band.”

Will you get many of those dud performers in auditions like you get on The X Factor?

“You mean the deluded and deranged ones! Well, they don’t often hang around with anyone long enough to form a group! So no I don’t think there’ll be many duds. I imagine the families we’re going to get are going to have the right attitude.”

Which style of music do you like?

“A real mixture really, even the Bee Gees. When I was a kid I didn’t think I liked what my dad was playing then, but now I really love groups like The Police, The Jam, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Talking Heads. I’ve also got all of UB40’s albums. I’d be surprised if any of that music turned up in the GMTV competition though! Motown for me is about relaxing so I like that, and I’ve got into listening to classical music.”

It’s surprising to hear that you like classical music. When did you get into it?

“I started using it to relax my kids when they need calming down [Jeff is dad to Bobby, 6, and Freddie, 5, his children with the late TV star Jade Goody]. When the kids were born I remember them having classical music on in the hospital, it was quiet and gentle and just right to relax to. From that day onwards I’ve listened to quite a bit. It really does the job with the kids – and my eldest is six. It really does relax them, like when I pick them up from school, I have it on in the car and it stops them being irritable.”

Do you come from a musical family? Do you sing much?

“Not in the slightest. In fact, I’m scared to sing anything like Karaoke and I’m always petrified if I get pulled up to do it. It’s strange when I can stand up in front of thousands presenting, but I’m not really an outward exhibitionist. Saying that, I once did Celebrity Star In Their Eyes. I was Ali Campbell from UB40 and sang Kingston Town. I don’t think I’m the worse singer, but I can’t say I enjoyed it too much. I did it because I’m a great believer that if you push yourself to do something you fear, you can get a lot from it.”

Which reality show acts have you enjoyed?

“One of my favourites was Stavros Flatley on Britain’s Got Talent. I’m a father who’s very close to his children, and to see another dad who’s equally as loving towards his son was something really special. I can’t wait to see this type of act in the competition.”

The auditions are going to be live on weekday mornings – how are you with early starts?

“As a dad, I don’t find them too tough. Saying that, it’s the afternoon and I’m talking to you from my bed. I’m just nicking an hour or so before I pick the boys up. I’m a robot when it comes to getting sleep, I just have to get it when I can, especially with having the children.”

Have you any future TV projects to tell us about?

“There’s one thing in particular I’m developing with Granada and it’s about parenting. It’s about couples who’ve split up but have children. Obviously, I’ve got a lot of experience with that situation and I like to think I’ve handled my family’s situation very well. There was never a time I didn’t see my children because of some sort of argument or disagreement. It might have been quite easy for that to have happened if I hadn’t played the situation as mindfully as I did. I’d like to pass that on to other people in a similar situation.”

You started a group on Facebook about this, didn’t you?

“Yeah, about a year ago. It’s called the Parents Support Network. People put up their problems and others in the group help them solve it by giving advice. The Granada project stemmed from that. But it’s early stages, although the pilot is close to being commissioned. This project does mean a lot to me, because I’m a dad. There’s still stuff to sort out, because I don’t want my kids photographed any more until they’re 18 and can decide for themselves if that’s what they want. So I’ve needed to make sure this programme won’t infringe on that.”

Regional auditions hosted by Jeff begin on GMTV on Monday August 3 and run for three weeks. The winning group will be chosen in the autumn.

*Interview by Nick Cannon*