Alex Jones, The Girl Next Door

Celebrity Angels’ Caroline Kent took a tea break on the BBC green room sofa to have a natter with the nation’s new sweetheart, Alex Jones.


Is your on-screen personality very similar to your personality in everyday life?
Near enough exactly the same. That’s the key to being a presenter, you have to be happy to be 100% yourself and comfortable in your own skin because it’s not acting, it’s just you and the nation. I do ridiculous things most of the time but I’m okay with that!

How did you get your start in presenting?
I never wanted to be a presenter, I was way too shy to think that was an option. I come from a family where mum and dad are really practical, I wouldn’t even have mentioned it, I know they would’ve said, “Don’t be so ridiculous. Go and do something proper.” After university, I had a job as a runner and I wasn’t very good. For example, I was supposed to be taking care of an actor and the producers asked me to take him for lunch and I took him to a McDonalds Drive-Thru because I didn’t have any cash and I couldn’t afford anything else. Another time I mistook a popstar for someone who had come to fix the fire alarm, and plopped a cup of tea and an alarm code in front of this musician and left him. In the end, they went, “This is just not for you, is it? Why don’t you try in front of the camera?” and I said, “Oh no, I won’t be any good,” and so we did sort of a little screen test and I suddenly started working on children’s television. I did that for about 9 years.

How did you make that transition to in-front of the camera, and overcome your shyness?
I think you really have to imagine that you are just talking to the person who is sitting on their sofa at home. You hope that’s how it feels to the people at home too. I have this scenario in my head that maybe there’s a family of four gathered in front of the television, waiting for their supper to be ready and I’m just talking directly to them.

Do you have a favourite and least favourite interviewee?
My favourite was Dolly Parton, and of course David Cameron. I never thought I would be in the position to interview the Prime Minister in front of four and a half million people. He was very nice, obviously, but it’s difficult in a situation like that because you have to be impartial yet also ask questions that people want to know the answer to. Going from Dolly one day to David Cameron the next day, then to Taylor Swift – it certainly keeps everything very fresh! I really like when we have guests like Paul O’Grady; those people who are held closely in British hearts because it makes for a great, warm programme.
Worst guests? I’m worried they might read this! Jeremy Irons said to me two weeks ago, “I read in a magazine that I’m one of your most hated interviewees,” and I just had to say, “Sorry about that, Jeremy, but there’s been lots since, you’ve probably moved up to somewhere in the top ten.”

How do you deal with that when someone is very shy or unresponsive?
Bruce Willis is a great example. His entourage wouldn’t let our researchers get close so they didn’t have time to brief him on the content of the show. They brought him on the stage completely cold, with thirty seconds to go.
People don’t understand how instant it is; what you see is what is actually happening. Bruce was a really nice man, he kept checking how it was going whilst we were live and I was like, “Not great, Bruce.”
David Cassidy was a nightmare. He was flown in from LA and I think he didn’t know what country he was in, let alone which show he was on, or what day it was. And we had the David Cassidy Fun Club in and he directed all his answers to them; didn’t look at Matt and I once. In the end, we linked to different segments with David still talking because he wouldn’t shut up.

Is there anyone you’d love to interview who you haven’t yet?
I’d like William, Kate and Harry.

All three of them at the same time?
Yeah. I think they are very modest for royals and it would be quite the laugh. The British public, especially young families, really hold them in high esteem.

How do you stay calm under this kind of pressure? We would just crumble!
No you wouldn’t! I just accept that one day it won’t go according to plan and I think the viewers don’t mind when things go wrong. Of course there is that pressure, especially when you have guests that are known for locking themselves in the dressing room, and then we go on air and don’t have a guest because the person has refused to come out of the dressing room. I won’t name any names, but he’ll know who he is when he reads this! We had Pamela Anderson on and she ran off the set because she didn’t like a picture that we showed, it was live and she just left. Matt and I try not to be rude or aggressive, but sometimes it’s very hard to make it look really relaxed and fun. But to keep it within those thirty minutes – that’s the biggest challenge.

Do you have a good rapport with Matt?
Our work ethic is pretty similar, we know that we’ve been incredibly lucky because the viewers accept us into their homes on a nightly basis.

Do you have a favourite between Matt or Chris Evans?
You can’t even compare Matt and Chris. Chris is obviously slightly nuts and bonkers and he comes in on a Friday and whatever they’ve planned, he’ll change it. But of course, a lot of people in the office, myself included, look up to him. Matt on the other hand is a lot more calm, he’s like me, he likes everything quite organised.

Do you have a stylist working with you every day?
Tess, who is my make-up artist too, works here three days a week and now she’s one of my closest friends. Having a dressing room is like having a second bedroom; work is the closest thing to home really, because it’s so comfortable. It’s all very casual, we are very conscious of using high street brands because I wouldn’t wear things that are more expensive than that myself! People at home who want to buy the jacket, dress or top that I’m wearing can go and buy that exact same item.

What about red carpet events?
The most pictured one is a yellow dress I wore to the BAFTAs; that was £40. I just don’t think you need to spend a fortune, a lot of the accessories we wear on the show
are from Primark and other high street shops.

So do you shop for the things you wear on the show yourself?
Tess and I do. For example, we will go tomorrow morning to Oxford Street, Topshop, Zara and Selfridges.

What is your off-duty look and routine?
You’ve caught me in my gym gear today, but that’s a new thing! My friend, Liz, who is one of the make-up artists here asked me to go to bootcamp pilates with her. We were laughing so much we nearly got chucked out. I just couldn’t do it, he was pulling my leg and it really hurt!
I do sort-of try to be active, but I don’t go to the gym because it’s really boring. Sometimes I walk to work or play tennis. I don’t like the idea of having to stick to the regime of going to the gym.

And what about your beauty routine?
I obviously wear quite a lot of make-up on a day-to-day basis.
But at home it’s very basic; face wipes, some moisturiser, and the job is done. I use Boots’ own brand cucumber wipes. What more do you want? Some people can pile so many products onto their skin, that their skin doesn’t actually know what to do with them.
I always take my make-up off, I can’t sleep in it. If I do, my bed ends up looking like there are spiders in it because of the false eyelashes.There are false eyelashes all over the house.

How do you spend time with your boyfriend Charlie?
We’ll play tennis, and he wants me to learn golf… but I’m not sure about that. We like to travel but most weekends he says,“Can we please just stay at home?” We both quite like photography, so we’re quite competitive in terms of taking pictures.

Do you feel at home in London now?
You can never be bored here. I don’t know whether it’s a place I’d like to be for the rest of my life, but I’m not really a country person. I miss Wales but it’s more about missing people. It’s the people who make a place and my best friends, mum, dad, sister and nephew are in Cardiff. Wales will always be there and that’s probably where I’ll retire.

What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s quite busy, but it’s my own fault because I tend to cram things in. On a normal day it’ll be meetings in the morning, maybe a photoshoot or meeting with my agent.
Generally I tend to leave for the studio around lunchtime, because you don’t get home until about 8.30pm every night. Some weeks I’m really busy – a month ago I was doing this [The One Show] every day and then Let’s Dance on the weekends, and a Radio 2 presenting job between 2 and 5 in the morning as well. If someone throws an oppor tunity at you, I always say yes.

What advice would you give to the busy ‘Good Living’ readers – how do you keep up that stamina?
Eat well, nobody can do anything on little food. Eat a really good mixture and don’t be afraid to eat when you are hungry. The key is having a job you love and then realising how lucky you are to be in that situation – that will keep you going. If you do something you enjoy, you can just go a million miles an hour.

What do you watch on TV?
Anything trashy, my favourite is Gossip Girl. My friend texted me yesterday and she said, “Alex, you have to watch The Valleys,” and four hours later I was still hooked on it, I couldn’t look away. I do watch quite a lot of guilty pleasure TV.

Is there anyone else’s career you aspire to as a presenter?
Claudia Winkleman is amazing, she makes it look really fun. People are divided over her fringe, but I think she looks lovely. You know, that’s somebody who is happy to be themselves, isn’t it?
Interviewing Michael Parkinson was crazy, I had Chris Evans on one side of me and Michael on the other and I thought,“What am I doing? I have no idea how to interview this man, especially with Chris Evans watching me do it!”

Who is due to be on the show this evening?
It was supposed to be Rod Stewart, the crews were building a stage outside and he was going to perform two singles from the new album but he woke up this morning with no voice. So I’m not sure…

You’ve had Rod on the show before haven’t you?
Yeah, when he came before he was really good fun but we nearly killed him. We were doing a story about the age limit on girls being allowed to play football with boys in school and one of the schoolgirls played against Rod Stewart. But he didn’t like the trainers we had got him to play in, so he played in his shoes and fell!

Have you ever interviewed someone who you fancied?
Oh my God, so many! When David Beckham turned up I was in bits, really awkward and clumsy, he smelled amazing. Bradley Cooper just looked immaculate, one of the nicest men you could ever meet. I just sat there thinking, “Oh my God, you are perfect.” When Gerard Butler was on, it was so awful because Chris kept saying, “She really fancies you,” and I was like, “Shut up, shut up, shut up,” live on telly. I was just in bits, I wanted to leave the sofa because I felt so awkward. And then afterwards, Chris said to Gerard, “You know, that was really hard for Alex, she does really fancy you.” Gerard replied, “Well we could go for a drink?” I just spluttered, “Oh… ehm… uh, well… we all could go for a drink, together,” and Chris went, “I don’t think that’s what he means.”

How did you meet your boyfriend Charlie?
We met at a Cowboys and Indians birthday party. He was wearing a poncho, a cowboy hat and a fake moustache.

How could you not fall for that?
I didn’t. I was thinking, “Who is that idiot?” But he introduced himself, and the rest is history.

Dr Chris Steele reveals his most memorable career experiences in an intimate exclusive interview for Dear Doctor – read it here.

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