AS two of the country’s biggest heavyweight classical artists, one might expect Aled Jones and Russell Watson to be serious and ever-so-professional.

But while their singing may be first-class, the pair, who have teamed up for two albums and tour, can’t resist a joke and a healthy dose of witty banter at each other’s expense.

“We laugh a lot,” says Aled in his trademark sing-song soft North Welsh tones. “We are really very good mates and like a joke.”

Aled and Russell have dominated classical music over the past two decades. Stars in their own right, they have united to create a world-class duo.

Their golden combination of their vocal talents found its voice in their album In Harmony, a beautiful collection of arias and classical standards that shot in to the UK Top 10 and is on the way to being certified Gold. They have now topped that with more of the same on an LP called, quite reasonably, Back In Harmony.

And they are test-driving the tunes, as it were, out on the road in a tour which calls in at the New Theatre Oxford tomorrow (Friday)

The tour sees them playing 22 dates – a lengthy period for the singers, who are accustomed to doing things on their own, to be travelling and performing together. So how do they get on?

“Very well,” says Aled. “We’ve known each other for 20 years since we sang at the Royal Albert Hall at a big Christmas event.

“But while we are used to being on stage on our own, it has been an amazing experience to be up there together. Our values are the same and we both love what we are doing.

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“I am doing half the work and only getting half the money – and that’s what I’m looking forward to more than anything,” he laughs.

Russell chimes in. “It’s great for me too, as I’ve got someone other than my wife to finish my sentences for me!”

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Music from the new album ranges from Luigi Denza’s Funiculì Funiculà, to Ennio Morricone’s Nella Fantasia and The Impossible Dream from the musical Man Of La Mancha. More religious pieces are also sung, such as The Lord is my Shepherd and Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace.

Finding fame at the tender age of 12, Anglesey-born Aled is no stranger to celebrity. As one of the most successful boy sopranos ever, he released 12 hit albums in four years – the defining moment being Walking in the Air, the hit song from The Snowman.

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He went on to sing for the Pope and the Royal Family, received an MBE, and now has more than 30 albums to his name, with over 10 million album sales and over 40 silver, gold and platinum discs.

He is also a successful broadcaster, presenting shows on BBC Radio 2 & 3, and hosting the Classic FM Sunday Breakfast Show.

Hailing from Salford, Russell had a rather different start in music. The man dubbed the ‘People’s Tenor’ also sang as a child but was spotted not in a cathedral choir but a Manchester working men’s club.

His big break came in 1999 when he sang the National Anthem at the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, ‘Barcelona’ at the last match of the Premiership season between Manchester United and Spurs at Old Trafford, and performed at the UEFA Champions League Final in Barcelona between Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Despite humble beginnings, his exceptional voice has seen him become one of Britain’s biggest-selling classical stars, spending 52 consecutive weeks at the top of the UK and the US classical charts at the same time.

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With over seven million albums sold, he has achieved six top ten albums and received four Classic BRIT Awards.

As well as the Pope and Royals, he has performed for former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush, the Emperor of Japan and a worldwide audience of one billion at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

So whose fans are in the majority at their shows? “It’s a crossover of people that like us both as individuals and as a duo,” says Russell. “There are people who wouldn’t come to see us as solo artists who’ll come and see us together.”

Aled agrees. “Fans will hear me doing music I wouldn’t do all the time and I’m looking forward to that.”

One thing he isn’t looking forward to is the constant ribbing from Russell who delights in mentioning The Snowman at every opportunity.

“I don’t sing that any more!” says Aled. “But Russell insists on sending me pictures of that Snowman from all over the place!”

“We are both serious singers,” laughs Russell, “but we are like two schoolboys when we are together!”

“It’s going to be a concert like no other,” adds Aled. “The show is called In Harmony, and does exactly what it says on the tin.”

Aled Jones & Russell Watson In Harmony live at New Theatre, Oxford, tomorrow (Friday). Tickets from £33.65 from