Alex Jones on how The One Show is keeping us united while we're apart…
As families across the UK continue to live in isolation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many are craving a sense of normality to help them get through each day and it seems The One Show is providing just that.
Despite the lockdown, The One Show has been broadcasting live from the BBC every evening at 7pm, where host Alex Jones and the team have been bringing viewers celebrity chat plus heart-warming stories of how frontline workers and ordinary people across Britain are dealing with the current crisis.
Alex, 43, chats to us about what makes The One Show essential viewing and offers tips on surviving lockdown…
How important is it that The One Show is still on-air during the pandemic?
“Our mission really is to bring a little bit of lightness to the situation and to brighten people’s day. Yes, the show is good at talking about the pandemic itself but it’s also about bringing people those lighter stories and providing a bit of familiarity for lots of viewers who are on their own. I recently received a card from one lady, who’s 89, which simply said: ‘Dear Alex and the team. I just want to thank you all for keeping going because you’re the only family I see.’ It really reminded me of what this show does.”
So how have you had to adapt The One Show during lockdown?
“Well, we obviously have to observe social distancing, which is difficult with something like The One Show. Straight away, the studio was stripped to the bare minimum in terms of personnel, so there’s now myself, a co-presenter, two cameramen and a soundman. We’ve gone from a team of 20 to just five!”
Do you sometimes feel exposed sitting on that big sofa on your own?
“No. It’s that old cliché that, in a crisis, people pull together and there’s a real feeling of: ‘Let’s get this show on air… together’. I’m enjoying hosting the show immensely at the minute. I’m very privileged to be considered a keyworker but obviously there are people working on the front line in the NHS, in care homes and in our supermarkets who are doing an unbelievable job. You just can’t compare it.”
In line with social distancing, many of your guests are now appearing via videolinks such as Skype. Who have been your favourites?
“Oh, I’m just loving seeing inside everybody’s houses! We recently had James Blunt from his house in Ibiza and I couldn’t wait to see inside. But we also had Tom Hanks’s wife Rita Wilson, live from their laundry room! I was quite excited about looking in Tom Hanks’s house – but she’d chosen the most bland background you could ever imagine!”
How are you finding doing your own hair and make-up for TV?
“I won’t lie, that’s been one of the most challenging things about making this show in the current climate. The amount of times the crew has called me onto set and I’m in my dressing room with a cotton bud trying to correct some wonky eyeliner and I think: ‘Oh, WHY did I even start putting this on?’”
Your long-time co-host Matt Baker’s last episode was filmed during lockdown. Was it more emotional having him on videolink than it would have been had he been in the studio?
“Yes definitely. We never planned for him to say goodbye from his sofa but it was just the situation we were in. I was really disappointed he wasn’t in the studio but then, if he had been, it would have been really odd that I couldn’t have given him a hug. So, in some ways, it was perhaps better that we had that screen between us.”
So, when you’re not filming The One Show, how are you coping with lockdown at home?
“Some days I think: ‘It’s fine, I’ve got this’. Then other days, I look at my son Teddy, who’s three, and he looks a bit down and he’s asking: ‘Why don’t I have any friends anymore, Mummy?’ and I can’t bear it! My youngest, Kit, will be one in a few weeks and I know it’ll be an emotional day with my parents not allowed to be there. I miss them, my sister and my friends loads – but you’ve just got to keep going with the lockdown and hope that, at some point, we’ll all be reunited and maybe we’ll be slightly better people for it.”
ALEX IN LOCKDOWN
The presenter offers her tips on staying positive in isolation…
Take a time out…
My home life is quite a juggle at the minute because I’m working in the evening, my husband Charlie [Thomson] is trying to work from home and we have two small children. The way we cope is that we sort of ‘tag team’, so that we both have half an hour of down time. It just keeps you sane being able to have half an hour out, do some exercise, maybe listen to a podcast, take a breath, then go back in… and have a glass of wine!
Embrace being with family…
Being in lockdown means we’re spending more time with our children. There are moments in the day when I’m upstairs having a shower and I can hear Charlie and the boys wrestling on the kitchen floor. That would never happen normally because he’d be at work and he really didn’t see them that much in the week. I’m lucky because I get to spend the morning with them – but the bond now between the boys and their father is lovely to see.
Save the environment…
We film The One Show at the BBC studios near Oxford Street in Central London, which is like a ghost town at the moment, it’s weird. On the plus side, though, it currently takes me just 15 minutes to get to work. Also, we recently did an item on the show, which revealed that the air quality on Oxford Street is currently the same as it is on the Yorkshire Dales! So we’re now living in a much cleaner city for our children.
The One Show airs weeknights at 7pm on BBC1.