While some stars give the impression they’re effortlessly balancing a full-time career with the demands of parenthood, we can always rely on The One Show’s Alex Jones for a refreshing reality check.
Sure enough, as mum to sons Edward (aka Teddy), five, and Kit, three, and one-year-old daughter Annie, she describes her life right now as a mammoth “juggling act”.
Alex is live on air most weeknights at 7pm, which means missing out on valuable family time.
But she believes passionately that, while you have to adjust your life to parenthood, it must never be at the cost of the life you had BC (before children).
“Sometimes, I think, ‘God, I just wish I could be home to put them to bed,’ but on the other hand, I want them to see a mum who works,” she admits.
“I want Annie especially to see a mother who, while being the nurturing parent, actually works. And for her to experience that somebody else can read her stories and we’re OK with that.”
Since welcoming her brood with rarely seen husband Charlie Thomson, Alex has spoken candidly about the harsh realities of parenting.
But as she adapts to Kit joining his big brother at primary school, she tells OK! that she’s making a conscious effort not to be so hard on herself.
“It can be tough,” she says. “Even if I go straight home after The One Show, they’re already in bed. But in a few years that will change – it’s always changing.
“When you become a mum, you go into overdrive, questioning everything you do. And then you end up overthinking things. I just need to keep it simple and try to do a great job. And I do as much as I can with them, and that’s the best I can do.”
Last week, the 46-year-old TV star posted a cute photo of Kit on Instagram posing for his first day at school.
“He was amazing,” she wrote. “A kiss goodbye and off he went. Excited about this new chapter and who can ask for more?”
Despite putting on a brave front for social media, Alex was privately devastated as she waved him goodbye at the school gates.
“I’ve been used to having him with me every morning, so I’m going to find that really hard,” she confesses. “He’s ready, but I’m not – it’s hard to let go. When Annie goes to school, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
She credits insurance broker Charlie – who she married in a stunning New Year’s Eve ceremony at Cardiff Castle in 2015 – for enabling her TV career, picking up extra dad duties when she works late.
“We’re super happy,” she beams. “He’s like my best friend, and we have a right good laugh.”
They met at a fancy-dress party at his home. One of Alex’s friends was dating a flatmate of Charlie’s.
“The minute I saw him in the kitchen, I knew he was The One,” she reminisces. “I thought, ‘He’s beautiful.’ And he later told me he thought, ‘She’s my type.’ We chatted for ages.
“I went on a few dates before Charlie which were all absolute shambles, but when I saw him I not only thought he was so handsome, but somehow he felt familiar too.”
Alex famously dumped fellow TV presenter Steve Jones in 2002 after he fibbed to TV bosses that she was sick in order to steal an interview with Angelina Jolie.
Now she counts her blessings that she found Charlie when she did, adding that she’s glad they weren’t both single during today’s world of online dating.
“I think it could be fun though,” she muses. “I often say to Charlie, ‘I wonder if we’d swipe right for each other if we dated online,’ and he says, ‘Yes, we would.’”
The couple’s relationship could easily have come under strain when Charlie spiralled into a dark depression last year after being diagnosed with Lyme Disease and viral meningitis.
Speaking over the summer on Gabby Logan’s podcast Midpoint, Alex described how he’d become a “shadow of himself” but spoke of the steps he’d since taken to get to a “way better place”.
It’s not the first time he’s struggled with his mental health, but she added that Charlie, a former chef, has found that good nutrition, along with medication, has aided his recovery.
“Lots of pulses, lots of greens, lots of vegetables, it’s the variety, eat the rainbow,” she said.
Alex and Charlie’s journey to complete their family of five also hasn’t been the smoothest.
In 2019, Alex revealed she’d suffered a miscarriage two years prior, just 10 months after the birth of Teddy. She later described her third pregnancy with Annie – when she was 44 – as a “complete shock”.
“Being a mother is the thing I enjoy and respect the most, because I know how lucky I’ve been,” she admits. “It’s mad, and of course there are days that are hard but every mother knows that.”
Despite all three of her pregnancies considered “geriatric” in medical terms due to her age, she wants other older mums-to-be to know that there’s nothing to fear.
“People get scared, and there are complications for some people, but if you’re lucky enough to get pregnant at 40-plus, there’s no reason in the world it shouldn’t be as wonderful as if you were 30,” she smiles.
In fact she firmly believes that welcoming her children later in life gave her the chance to embark on her award-winning presenting career before settling down.
“My job requires a certain level of fizz, so I’m quite used to a high-octane kind of life,” she explains. “Yes, being a mum can be tiring, but I feel I’d be just as tired if I was a younger mum because I was a lot more selfish in my twenties.
“I would have been frustrated not to be able to do my own thing, too. Now I feel so grateful to have had my children so I’m not frustrated. I put everything I’ve got into them, and it pays you back a thousand times over.”
Leaving us both surprised and amused in equal parts, Alex confesses she often uses her children as an excuse to avoid doing gruelling reality TV shows – particularly I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
“I couldn’t be away from the kids,” she says, before teasing, “But never say never. I think it’s a fab and fun show. Once Annie ventures off to school, who knows?
“Right now though, the focus for me is the children. I don’t want to be away from them. My job means I can go to work and then come home later that evening, and that’s really rare in TV.”
The Welsh presenter began her career as a TV researcher after leaving university.
And despite being sacked twice – once for mistaking musician Mike Peters from the band The Alarm for a workman fixing the office alarm – she quickly became a favourite among producers, resulting in her current success.
But although exciting new offers undoubtedly come her way all the time, she plans to remain with the 7pm BBC show for as long as bosses will have her.
“It feels as fresh as it did 12 to 13 years ago when I started, and I absolutely love it,” she says of The One Show. “It works for us as a family. I feel super lucky that I’ve got the two – the career and children.”
Aside from Charlie, there’s another important man in her life – “work husband” Ronan Keating.
The former Boyzone singer, 46, joined the show as a guest presenter in 2017 before bagging the role of lead co-host in 2021.
“Ronan’s one of the nicest boys I’ve come across in this business. He’s genuine, kind and he’s got great family morals, and I really like to spend time with him. He’s beautiful inside and out,” Alex says.
Their friendship has grown even stronger in recent months after Ronan lost his older brother Ciaran in a fatal car crash in July.
“He’s sad,” she discloses to us. “It’s nearly too hard to talk about, but it’s nice to be able to check in.”
As well as their mutual adoration for one another, the pair have legendary appearances on Strictly Come Dancing in common, with Alex starring in the 2011 series alongside pro dancer James Jordan, and Ronan in the 2018 Children In Need edition of the show.
While many former contestants admit the iconic Strictly theme music still fills them with fear, Alex claims, “It fills me with joy because I loved being part of the show.”
She also reveals an extra special bond with one of this year’s stars, who she plans to meet up with soon to offer some words of wisdom.
“I know Angela Scanlon quite well, and we’re going to have a cup of tea and a little debrief,” she tells us.
“I’ll tell her not to take it too seriously, and to enjoy it. The first few years after you’ve done the show are a bit weird because you know the mechanics of it so well, but now I can watch it as a viewer and enjoy it.
“I think Angela will do brilliantly – she’s like an Irish dancer, she’s nimble. She also looks amazing and she’s got a great attitude,” Alex adds. “Plus she’s a breath of fresh air and she’s funny. She’ll do amazing.”
And asked if she remembers any moves from her time on the show 12 years on, Alex reveals she’d love an excuse to dust off her dancing shoes.
She giggles, “If I had to do a cha-cha-cha now, could I do it? I don’t know, but I’d certainly give it a go!”
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