Gethin Jones is back to his boisterous best in The Adventurer’s Guide To Britain, began on ITV1 this week. The former Blue Peter presenter reveals all about being a scaredy cat at heart, busting some Strictly Come Dancing moves at his forthcoming wedding to Katherine Jenkins and why it still hurts him a bit to watch rugby.
Roller coasters, the dark, Vanessa Feltz... there’s no end to the things Gethin Jones claims he’s scared of.
Yet it all sounds rather unlikely, coming from a man who has escaped from a submarine 30 metres underwater, was attacked by an alligator and ran the gruelling 30-mile Royal Marine Commando yomp while presenting children’s show Blue Peter for three years.
“I was given this kind of ‘action man’ tag but I was scared of everything,” explains the 33-year-old Welshman.
“They made me sleep at the London Dungeons on my own with actors jumping out at me, and do all the biggest and fastest roller coasters in the world...” he breaks off, then admitting: “But I always loved pushing myself. Seeing what my limits are.”
The former rugby player turned presenter is not your average children’s television presenter.
Squeaky clean he may be but he’s also cheeky, open and opinionated.
The new show sees Jones and co-presenter Charlotte Uhlenbroek take off for six different adventure weekends in Britain. Jones says: “People don’t have much cash for holidays at the moment but take your pick of any of six of those weekends and you’ll have a fab time.
“Charlotte and I had six really amazing weekends away. I think Kath was probably quite jealous as I was having so much fun with another woman each weekend.”
Of course, the ‘Kath’ in question is mezzo soprano superstar Katherine Jenkins, to whom Jones is engaged.
The two met in 2007 when Jones was a competitor on Strictly Come Dancing and Jenkins performed a song. He and partner Camilla Dallerup missed out on the glitterball trophy, coming third, but Jenkins was a more than ample consolation prize.
“I had such a laugh doing that show and there was a bit of a bonus halfway as well, to say the least, so it was a very exciting time,” he says.
Jenkins is beautiful, talented, wealthy (the 62nd richest young person in Britain, according to the Sunday Times) and Welsh to boot, so is ‘a bit of a bonus’ not a bit of an understatement? “She’s a lucky girl!” he says, cracking up.
Both Jenkins and Jones have stated they’re not interested in publicising their partnership, and the presenter says they’re both very low-key when they go back home to Wales.
“We don’t really go out and about. We keep our relationship quite private,” he says.
But Jones is game enough to suggest he might bring out a two-step from his time on Strictly for the first dance at their wedding.
He reveals he and Jenkins want to have children “for sure”, and says of his forthcoming role as husband: “It’s probably going to be the best job I ever have and one I’ll want to do the best I can at. Family for me is about staying together and hopefully I’ll be the best husband possible.”
Cardiff-born Jones tried a string of jobs before getting into television. He worked as a gardener, a builder, a bank clerk and a telephone hotline officer.
“I used to take the complaints for a Welsh television channel. My friends used to phone me all the time, hoax me and I used to have to log it all. Then a few years later I was on television, causing the complaints, and some poor person would be logging the complaint going, ‘Gethin Jones? Yeah I know, he’s a ......” says Jones, completing the sentence with a very rude word.
But what Jones really wanted to do was become a rugby player. He was captain of his university team and was scouted by Manchester club the Sale Sharks.
Sadly, his dream came to an end for financial reasons when Jones struggled to make ends meet. He is now learning to be a rugby coach and admits, without hesitation, that it still smarts to watch the rugby World Cup and wonder ‘What if?’ But otherwise, he’s happy with his lot.
“I don’t know whether I could have made it or not and I guess I’ll never know but how could I ever be negative about what’s happened over the last 10 years? I’ve been so lucky along the way,” he says.
Fair enough. But why, then, is he so frightened of Vanessa Feltz?
“I went on her show once and she scared me a lot... but that’s another story,” he says, laughing.