RUSSELL Watson is returning to Wirral later this year for a special concert as part of his new UK tour.

The acclaimed tenor and recent star of ITV reality show I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here is at Thornton Manor on September 15.

Looking forward to what is his first show at the historic venue, Salford-born Russell - who has performed in front of the Queen and late Pope John Paul II among many others - told the Globe this afternoon: "Thornton Manor is a great location, can't wait to get there.

"It's a series of one-off concerts as part of the UK tour, which ends in December, so it's a very busy time. 

"This type of venue is perfect for the performance. I'm really looking forward to it.

"After a long time away from the stage after an awful 18 months, it's great to finally be back in front of an audience.

"I started off with a couple of charity concerts recently; the first proper performance was at Studley Castle. It was a great night. People seemed really eager to be part of a live audience."

The former bolt-cutter set off on the road to classical music stardom after he was discovered singing Nessun Dorma in a working men's club and made his debut in 2001.

The 54-year-old said he never imagined one day becoming one of the world's most prominent tenors, selling more than seven million albums worldwide.

His first album, The Voice, held simultaneous number one slots in the UK and America. It spent a record breaking 52 weeks at number 1 in the UK.

He has also won four Classical BRITS.

He has performed for some of the world's greatest figures including the Queen, late Pope John Paul II - who requested a private audience with Russell at The Vatican - and former US President Bill Clinton.

He has also worked with Pavarotti, Lionel Richie, Sir Cliff Richard and American rocker Meatloaf.

Russell was the fifth campmate to leave the I'm A Celebrity 2020 castle in December, after a double vote.

His fellow campmates were paralympian Hollie Arnold MBE, Coronation Street's Beverley Callard, journalist and broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, Sir Mo Farrah, vlogger (and series winner) Giovanna Fletcher, West End star Ruthie Henshall, Radio One's Jordan North, ex-EastEnders stars Jessica Plumber and Shane Richie, Strictly Come Dancing star AJ Pritchard and TV presenter Vernon Kay. 

On his experience of the show, Russell said: "It was a fantastic time; one of the best of my life. The surreal thing was that I was bunked next to Sir Mo Farrah. I met some really nice people, who have become real friends.

"It got to the situation where I just wanted fish, chips and peas, because you'd lose that much weight through the challenges."

Looking back on his career, the entertainer, who lives in Manchester, said: "I've had highs and lows, there have been million selling albums and those that have not done so well. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities I've been given.

"It's good to come from a working class background. I remember working 12-hour shifts in a factory. I’ve always kept my roots in the Northwest."

Recalling the time he performed in front of the Pope, he said: "It was probably my proudest moment and takes some beating.

"I remember walking out on the stage; the orchestra was big, there were 110 musicians on stage, a choir of 500 and red-dressed cardinals behind me.

"I just remember looking around and thinking 'crickey, this time three years ago I was performing at a working men's club in Wigan'. It was surreal."

In 2005, Watson began having headaches. An MRI scan revealed that he had pituitary adenoma, a benign but aggressive brain tumour, which was removed on the eve of his 40th birthday.

It came back a year later and had haemorrhaged in four places.

Russell was semi-conscious when was rushed to hospital and if it hadn’t been for a seven-hour operation he would have died.

On overcoming two life-threatening brain tumours, he said recently: "It sounds like a cliché, but surviving something cancer gives you a chance to re-assess your life, especially after I was told, after the second tumour, that I was lucky to be alive.

"In the seven years that followed, I was able to see my kids grow up and really experienced the joys of life."

Looking to the future, he said: "As far as work is concerned, I've got bookings up until the end of next year.

"I've still got a lot more to give; still got ambitions to do more.

"I'd like to do some musical theatre and try my hand at acting."

Tickets for his show at Thornton Manor on September 15 are from or