It’s been a busy year for Alex Jones.
The Welsh TV presenter gave birth to son Teddy in January, turned 40 in March and returned to her spot on the One Show sofa in April.
On top of all that, she’s managed to make a six-part documentary series, The Secrets In My Family, that fans of Long Lost Family will love.
The show uses pioneering DNA technology to help people dig up the truth behind family mysteries and find relations they thought they’d never see again or even knew existed.
It’s fascinating stuff, and here Alex, who’s married to Charlie Thomson, an insurance broker, tells TV Life all about the show, her own family and the book she’s managed to write, too…
What made you want to make The Secrets In My Family?
They showed me some clips of people telling their stories and they were so emotive. We can all empathise with having complex families, not necessarily complex secrets, but we all have a fascination with our history and where we’ve come from. I knew it would be quite an emotive show and it is utterly different from what I do on The One Show. It was a good project to get your teeth into and go on a journey with
Is it hard to keep your own emotions under wraps with all of that going on?
I suppose you should keep it under wraps. I didn’t! I wear my heart on my sleeve really and I’m quite an open book. But also, because you have spent so much time with these contributors, you do really feel their pain and you celebrate with them when there is a good lead or the genealogist thinks that they’ve cracked it. Then you also share their immense disappointment when a lead doesn’t quite go the way they had planned or there is a dead end again. And especially towards the end of the programme, when we are doing the reunions. After months of getting to know them, it’s like watching a friend meet their dad or their mum or sister or brother for the very first time. It’s very emotional.
Are you more interested in this subject now that you’re a mum?
I think so. It definitely refocuses your mind, having a child, and suddenly you think about where you have come from. I think it definitely gives you more appreciation of having a straightforward family – that is for certain. Hearing some of these stories, I thought my family were quite straightforward and maybe a bit boring – it’s all Welsh connections! But actually you are grateful for that because then you hear these people talking about not knowing who their dad was, or not quite knowing who they are identity-wise because they don’t know who made them or why they have the traits that they do. Making this show, plus becoming a mum, definitely had an impact and made me appreciate having a straightforward and loving family around me.
So you don’t have any far-flung family?
Unfortunately not! It’s not very glamorous but it’s all south Wales miners. There is nothing exotic there. There might be a bit of French but, more than that, nothing much, no!
How does it feel to be back on The One Show?
It’s good. It’s like putting on an old pair of slippers – there’s no change really. I am like all women, I’m sure. I worried about going on maternity because if you love your job you are always going to worry. But going back was great and it is more difficult these days because you’re juggling a full-time job and a baby as most women do. It is hard. And fathers, too. It is difficult, but the job has always been unchanged and that has been lovely really. The familiarity of that definitely made the return a lot easier.
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You’ve got a book coming out, too…
Yes, no pressure! I use Teddy’s nap time well, I get things done, that is the way to do it! I’ve got a book coming out and it is about becoming a parent really, slightly later than we had imagined. It’s for anyone who has become a parent in their thirties or early forties, which is now becoming the norm. The impact I suppose that has in terms of tiredness, where you are in your career, having no family support around – with us, we moved to London and Charlie’s parents are in New Zealand and mine are in Wales – so it does make the situation a lot more complex maybe than having grandparents on the doorstep to help out.
Can you give us any tips then?
Well, it is for people who are thinking of having children later because it is all about conception and fertility. So in every section there is advice from experts as well. Lots of people will go, “What does she know?” and the truth is, nothing, because I haven’t done this before. All I can do is share my experience. I would feel very self-conscious writing about just my experience, so it’s not my voice, it is lots of different voices and then experts as well to add some hard facts and give good tips to take away.
It’s always useful to hear people’s opinions…
That’s it. Because I’m a certain age, you have reached the peak of your career and you think you have got it all sussed, and then a baby comes and you are back to square one in so many ways and it’s nearly worse because you think you’ve got it sussed. Being flexible to change is harder. You’re so knackered!
Is it tricky to be that tired and still be in the public eye?
No, I think people know I have a baby and I’m no different to anyone else, so if I look knackered one day then that’s the way it is. I’ll try and conceal it if I can, but there’s not much I can do about it. I don’t feel pressure like that. I think audiences are very forgiving actually. With lots of people it is all smoke and mirrors, but I haven’t got time. I can only just get there on time! I am who I am.
You’re a self-confessed coat addict. Have you got something new for this winter?
Funny you should say that – I was looking just last night on Asos!
I think there is a new series of Shop Well For Less, so I won’t be shopping massively because that’s not what we do on that programme! I’ll buy one coat that is a staple that’ll see me all through winter.
The Secrets In My Family is on Monday at 9pm on W Channel