CHRISTMAS with the Osmonds was a staple of American TV, with the brothers joining crooner Andy Williams every year for his yuletide songfest.

The young Osmonds, in matching sweaters, would sing in harmony around a crackling fire, spreading seasonal goodwill. And the goodwill continues this Christmas, in Merrill Osmonds festive tour, heading for Bradford. “I love Christmas - what’s not to love? And of course, I look like Santa!” smiles Merrill, 66. “I have 15 grandchildren so Christmas is a big deal in our house. Grandma and Grandpa are going to be busy...”

His show features special guests and festive songs - with those much-loved Osmond hits, among them Crazy Horses, The Proud One, One Bad Apple and Love Me For A Reason, thrown in the mix too. “It’s one of the first big tours I’ve done by myself. It’s a family show; songs and stories, with a big heart - and goodness knows, we need that,” says father-of-six Merrill, who was the lead singer in the Osmond family group and, with his brothers, wrote five Number Ones and produced many of their 27 gold records.

The Osmond Brothers stared as a barbershop quartet comprising Merrill, Alan, Wayne and Jay. They were later joined by younger siblings Donny and Jimmy, who went on to be solo artists, along with sister Marie.

The Osmonds’ wholesome good looks and radio-friendly soft rock sent them soaring up the charts in the early-to-mid 1970s, and teen hysteria followed the handsome Salt Lake City brothers everywhere. Osmondmania reached fever-pitch both sides of the Atlantic, a frenzy not seen since the Beatles, and Merrill and his brothers gazed from posters adorning every teenage girl’s bedroom

These days the fans are of a certain age but still fiercely loyal. When Merrill, Jimmy and Jay brought the Osmonds farewell tour to a packed-out St George’s Hall in 2012 fans went wild, tearfully chanting: ‘We want the Osmonds!’

“Elvis Presley once told me: ‘The day your fans start bringing their kids along to your shows is the day you’ve passed the generation gap, “ says Merrill. “That sure happened to us. Our fans are wonderful.”

How did he cope with the kind of fan worship that, as subsequent boy bands know too well, can be a struggle? “We lived in a bubble in the Seventies, we were very united as a family and that kept us sane and secure,” says Merrill. “Paul McCartney called it ‘mania’ not ‘hysteria’. It was scary at times, but we could rely on each other to keep our feet on the ground. People poked fun because of our image, but being a close family saved us. It’s too easy to get carried away by this business.

“It’s all I ever knew. As I look back on my life, I wonder if I could have pursued something in health or medicine, but it wasn’t to be. Our dad was a military sergeant and he marched us together as a team.”

Merrill became a successful producer of live and TV shows, and reveals he’d like to make a programme about the Osmonds’ early success. “We have footage that’s never been seen,” he says.

Would he tour again as a group? “Those days with the brothers are gone now, but one of my guests at the Christmas show is my nephew, David, who’s an amazing young man,” he says.

Warm, friendly and good-humoured, Merrill is everything you’d expect an Osmond to be. As co-founder of the Hearing Fund UK, which supports the families of deaf children, he has been to Bradford several times to meet families. In 2013 his son, Justin, who is deaf, climbed Ilkley’s Cow and Calf rocks to raise funds for local facilities. “The Osmonds started out to raise 50 bucks for hearing aids for our two oldest brothers,” says Merrill. “We had no idea it would balloon so much. We’re lucky we’ve been able to use our high profile to help others. What you get, you give back.”

* A Christmas Evening with Merrill Osmond is at St George’s Hall on Thursday, December 12. Call (01274) 432000.