Shaun Dooley on his Children in Need covers album: ‘It’s got an insane cast… and luckily everyone can sing!’

How actor Shaun Dooley got a glittering line-up of stars together to record a special album for Children in Need…

Cameras follow some of the biggest names of stage and screen as they get together to record an album of cover songs in aid of the BBC’s Children in Need this week, in one-off documentary Children in Need: Got It Covered.

The 90-minute special features Hollywood stars Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent and Luke Evans, alongside Olivia Colman, Suranne Jones, Adrian Lester, Himesh Patel, and reunites former Doctor Who star David Tennant with current Time Lord Jodie Whittaker as they all record the album at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios.

Children in Need Got it Covered group

Singing stars! (From L-R) Adrian Lester, Jim Broadbent, Suranne Jones, Himesh Patel, Shaun Dooley, Olivia Colman and Helena Bonham Carter

The documentary sees the actors in rehearsals as they each prepare to sing their big song. They receive expert guidance and mentoring from Brit award-winning record producers and songwriters, Guy Chambers and Jonathan Quarmby, and some special guests pop in, too!

The project is the brainchild of actor Shaun Dooley, who recently starred alongside Suranne in the BBC period drama Gentleman Jack.

TV Times chatted to Shaun, 45, about putting together his superstar covers band for Children in Need…

How did the idea for this album come about?

“I’ve always felt there’s a hidden pop star in all of us that’s desperate to get out, so my wife, Polly, and I thought: ‘What if we created an album with our friends for charity’. So I rang some lovely people I’d worked with previously, asked them if they’d be on it, and pretty much everyone said yes. It’s an insane cast that you’d die to get in a project together and luckily everyone can sing!”

Everyone involved has such busy schedules. Was it a logistical nightmare trying to get everyone together?

“It was really difficult because everyone’s off in different countries, doing different things. But thanks has to go to Polly, who managed to pull everyone’s schedules together to find a window to get seven of us all in the same room together on the same day for the first record at Abbey Road Studios. It was unbelievable. She’s definitely the grown up in our relationship. I’m the dog chasing squirrels!”

CIN Got it Covered Suranne Jones

Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones sings her heart out for Children in Need

You sing a Taylor Swift song on the album. What was it like recording at Abbey Road?

“It was kind of a dream really. I don’t know if I can truly sing or not but I am obsessed with music, so to stand there in this iconic studio and record a song through the same wires as the Beatles, was incredible. I’m still in that fog of going: ‘It did happen, didn’t it!?’”

Can you tease some of the other performances?

“Olivia’s performance of Glory Box by Portishead will blow people away because it’s just so ‘her’. Helena’s version of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now is just beautiful and when you hear Jim sing Blue Moon, it’s just like coming home. Adrian’s rendition of Stevie Wonder’s I Wish is pretty mind-blowing.”

And we know a few special guests turn up to offer moral support…

“That’s right. Jodie Whittaker sings Yellow by Coldplay. She’s been a huge fan of the band forever and band-members Jonny and Will come in and surprise her and then they sing together!”

CIN Got it Covered Jodie Whittaker

Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker got to meet her idols Coldplay… and she met Pudsey, too!

What does it mean to you to know that you and your showbiz pals have been able to support such a worthy cause as Children In Need?

“The one thing a civilised society should be doing is taking care of its kids; we’re merely babysitting this planet for them. None of the stars involved earned any money for this album and all of the profits will go to Children in Need. Whenever it’s streamed, this album will continue to raise money. If you’re in a position to give back, you should.”

THE STARS AND WHAT THEY’RE SINGING…

Helena Bonham Carter – Both Sides Now (originally by Joni Mitchell)
Jim Broadbent – Blue Moon (Rogers and Hart)
Olivia Colman CBE – Glory Box (Portishead)
Shaun Dooley – Never Grow Up (Taylor Swift)
Luke Evans – Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
Suranne Jones – Symphony (Clean Bandit)
Adrian Lester OBE – I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
Himesh Patel – All These Things That I’ve Done (The Killers)
David Tennant – Sunshine on Leith (The Proclaimers)
Jodie Whittaker – Yellow (Coldplay)
Ensemble – It Must Be Love (Labi Siffre)

*The album will be released on Friday November 1 in conjunction with Silva Screen Records. You can pre-order the album via the BBC Children in Need website now: https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/shows/got-it-covered/

Children in Need: Got It Covered airs on Wednesday October 30 at 7.30pm on BBC1.

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