Bernie Nolan Interview: GMTV’s No. 1 Family

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

bernie 210x300She can sing, dance, act and tolerate working with her sisters.

It’s Bernie Nolan!

She’s currently a judge on GMTV’s search for the next Von Trapp family in the nationwide talent competition The No.1 Family.

We caught up with Bernie as she was coming out of a long day of rehearsal for the upcoming Nolan Sisters tour.

Though she was plum tuckered from dancing her socks off all day, she seemed to be in the mood for answering some questions. See what we did there?

So tell us a bit about the competition.

Well the show was an idea to find the most talented family to make a Christmas album with Universal. And we auditioned about – well we did 30 in Manchester and 30 in London and then we whittled it down to 15. Then they all came back to London then we’ll get it down to 5. Then in the studio, we’ll show one each day and then at the end of the week the public decide who they want to win out of the five families.

But it was very difficult because there were some really, really talented families. I mean, without meaning to sound patronising, I was really surprised at the high quality of the acts.

What kind of things were you looking for from the families?

Well, obviously we were looking for people who have to be able to sing to start with. But they also have to have a rapport as a family, you know that whole thing when they’re looking at each other and smiling and feeling that they care about each other.

Also you know, they were all mostly amateurs so they were all very, very nervous and everything, so you have to take that into consideration when you’re judging. But the 5 we’ve put through to the finals, we’re all really happy with.

What made you want to be a talent show judge?

To be quite honest with you I was asked! We went on to promote our album on GMTV and our tour, the Nolans tour, and of course as a family they knew they had this show coming up. And I think they thought what better judges than people who have been in a family band for 35 years. So then they asked myself and Coleen we both said ‘yeah we’d love to!’

There’s quite a few young contestants, do you think they should wait a while before getting into showbiz? Or does the fact that they’re with their families mean they’re OK?

Well I started singing when I was 2 and I was with my family the whole time right through, until I went solo in 1994. But I think if they’ve got their family round that helps a great deal because you’ve always got people to look after you, people to stop you getting big headed, people to stop people taking advantage of you. I think with this show it’s safe enough.

Did you and the other judges ever disagree?

God yeah! It was difficult, really difficult, Jordan Jay – the A and R guy from Universal, I mean, he knew what he needed for the album and he didn’t have his mind made up from when we went in. But as it went on there were certain acts that he just thought that he couldn’t make an album with them. But I said ‘they’re only singers, it’s not about image’. There was a lot of that going on, but actually at the end of the day on the final day it was quite, not easy, well, it was awful seeing them with all the families there supporting them. I felt like a murderer!

Was anyone the Simon Cowell of the judges?

I think Johnathan Shalit was a bit of a Simon Cowell, yeah. He’s a nice guy but he was a bit sometimes, especially in the preliminary auditions. At the end of the day it was good to do the job because I judge the final 15 with Johnathan and Jordan, and we had 3 different opinions which makes for a good final.

In shows like X Factor family groups don’t seem to do well, do you think there’s a gap in the market?

I think there is a gap in the market for a family actually, we’re one of the few sister acts that’s around, actual families singing together you know. So yeah I think there’s is a gap in the market, why not?

In terms of your own TV work, you were on The Bill. Now it’s been rebooted, would you consider returning?

Oh I would love to return! Nothing would give me greater pleasure to go back to The Bill. I had a fantastic time while I was there and I loved every minute of it. So yeah, I’d be back in a second.

Would you be interested in taking part in a musical based on the Nolan’s music? It worked for Abba in Mamma Mia!

Oh yeah it did work for Mamma Mia! Yeah, I mean, why not? I’d go for it!

And now you’re [The Nolans] all going on tour again, are you all excited?

Oh yeah we’re all really excited, its getting so close now and we’re working so hard everyday. And we’ve got the boy dancers with us now so it’s really great.

What are the best and worst things about going on tour?

The best things are that it’s great fun actually on tour – especially now because I’m with all my sisters and also my husband’s coming. He’s going to play drums because he was our drummer originally. It’s such a family affair really.

Emily Moulder

Bernie is judging the No 1 Family which is aired on GMTV weekdays 6am – 9.25am. The Nolans new album ‘In The Mood Again’ is out now and for ticket info visit