Steve Jones has long been a successful presenter, but now – at this point in his career and personal life – he’s the happiest he’s ever been. He tells Around Town how life has improved tenfold since he tied the knot
Steve Jones had a taste of international fame on The X Factor USA, but the Welsh TV presenter has no regrets when it came to bidding goodbye to Hollywood.
“I’ve brought the best thing in LA back with me: My wife,” he boasts, having returned to UK soil three years ago with his food stylist and blogger spouse, Phylicia Jackson. “That came off the top of my head – if it sounded rehearsed, I promise you it wasn’t!”
Jones, 40, continues: “My wife was working in LA when we met, but she is from Las Vegas, so that’s another dynamic that’s fantastic for us – every time I want to see the in-laws, I’ve got to go to Las Vegas!
“So, we have all these cool things: She loves going to Wales because she loves all the greenery and the weather, and I love going to Las Vegas because there’s no greenery, it’s all sand and it’s boiling hot,” he concludes, his familiar laugh infectious. “It’s a good situation. We’re very lucky.”
For the most part, Jones, who proposed to his wife three years ago in Italy, resides in London’s Marylebone. But that’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy a road trip back home when his schedule allows.
“We were just there this weekend, in fact. I was supposed to film a show in the Brecon Beacons, but true to form, it torrential rained the entire day so we couldn’t actually do the filming.
“But I was back in Wales anyway, so I went to see my family,” says the Rhondda-born star. “It was a great weekend. A lot of fun.”
With a top personality and a sense of humour to match, Jones (who started out as a model) has proved his chops on the small screen, from his early days fronting The Pop Factory Awards to his regular slot as one of the main hosts of former weekend show, T4.
Raring for a challenge – “I like different, I like doing stuff I’ve never done before” – he has since flexed his presenting muscles on many an entertainment show, more recently on the gasp-worth E4 dating show, Young, Free & Single: Live, and Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special.
For Jones, the ultimate buzz comes from the unpredictability of live TV.
“There’s nothing like it. The sense that anything can happen and you’ve just got to think on your feet,” he explains. “It’s kind of like falling down a tree and you’re just grabbing a branch as you go along, trying to stabilise yourself.”
“If anybody wanted to get into presenting, get into it for the live TV,” he counsels. “That [should be] the goal of anybody who wants to do this job.”
Understandably, then, Jones is elated about his current gig, as the host of Channel 4’s Formula One (F1) coverage.
“I’m just chuffed that at 40 years old – 38 when I started doing it – I still had the ability to learn a new skill,” he says, “because I’d never thought about doing sport. I’d watched it for years, but I’d always thought, ‘I’m an entertainment presenter’, so when I was approached, firstly I was terrified and then secondly I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can do this’.”
“I learnt a new skill from scratch and it’s turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I have ever done,” he adds, excitedly detailing his upcoming five-week jaunt across Asia. “I love it. It’s absolutely fantastic.”
Is it as glamorous as it looks?
“No,” he says with a laugh. “Don’t get me wrong, when we’re at the circuit, when I am in the paddock, when you’re sitting in one of those mega hospitality suites talking to Lewis Hamilton, that’s pretty cool. That’s glamorous. But when you’re standing behind the pit lane and cars go by…”
Joined by Jackson on most of his trips (“I wouldn’t have it any other way,”) Jones has little else to complain of besides the relentless travelling.
“As every human being who has ever been in airport knows, it’s the worst place in the world. It’s draining, it really, really is. But, thank the Lord, it’s as rewarding as it is draining. I get a lot out of it.”
And well-versed in A-lister interviews (the Welshman has worked his charm on the likes of Halle Berry, Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson – the likes of which were rumoured to be romances), Jones has no qualms when it comes to talking to F1’s biggest names.
“It’s all people. I love people,” he reasons. “I have always been interested and fascinated by other people, so I’m happy to interview and talk to anybody.”
“But I love my entertainment bones as it were,” he quickly adds. “I loved working on T4 and I loved my time over in LA with X Factor. You’re a sum of these experiences and I feel I’m in a good place now. I’m very happy.”
Much of his happiness he puts down to being settled in a blissful marriage.
“Honest to God, it’s just wonderful. She’s a fantastic lady and my life is better than it has ever been before,” he gushes. “It’s more than I deserve, it’s the best.”
“All the things you normally take for granted, the enjoyment of it, is increased exponentially by having someone else there who you love,” he concludes. “It’s so, so much better.”
Though, he confesses, with a hectic schedule, he is in no rush to start a family.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he admits, coyly. “F1 is taking up most of my time at the moment, so I haven’t really thought about starting a family and all the rest of it. But we’ll see.”
Jones has the same outlook when it comes to his career. “Be the best person you can be in the moment and don’t worry about what’s behind or in front of you,” he declares.
“I have never made any plans. I didn’t plan to do work on any of [my previous] projects, it was offered to me and I just tried to make the right decision in the moment. I am pretty breezy. I’m pretty chilled.
“So, if something comes up, great!” he finishes. “But if it doesn’t, then I’ll deal with that when it happens.”