Supervet Special's going to be most unpredictable show Steve has ever done
Entertainment, sports, you name it, Steve Jones has ticked it off, but he's adding a new string to his bow for Channel 4's Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special, says Gemma Dunn
When Steve Jones was approached for a presenting gig on Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special, it's fair to say that he didn't take much convincing. "They mentioned live TV and the Supervet and that's as far as they had to go!" quips the Welshman (40). "I was like, 'Yep, I'm in'.
"I'm a huge Noel Fitzpatrick fan. It's very rare to meet a legitimate genius and Noel Fitzpatrick is my first. He's super-intense about what he does and that's exactly what the show needs - somebody inspiring that has a message of hope and love.
"I'm pretty sure he prefers animals to humans, so he's on the right show. Hopefully, a large number of viewers will get to see an unedited version of Noel Fitzpatrick, and it is something to behold."
Joined by Food Unwrapped presenter Kate Quilton, the duo will launch the week-long animal rescue series live from the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter.
Their mission: to find forever homes for the menagerie of animals who currently live there, while also rehoming pets from shelters up and down the country.
Chuffed to be along for the ride, Jones - well-versed in live broadcast thanks to his time on weekend entertainment programme T4 and The X Factor USA - is particularly looking forward to sharing screen time with some unscripted, lively animals.
"The adrenaline you get from working on live TV, in the sense that anything can happen and you've just got to think on your feet, there's nothing like it. It's kind of like falling down a tree and you're just grabbing a branch as you go along, trying to stabilise yourself.
"Don't get me wrong, you can do a good pre-recorded show in a studio with an audience and that's a lot of fun as well. But when you're on live TV and you can feel those eyeballs staring at you, it's fantastic. And this is going to be the most unpredictable show I've done - working with animals."
He's quick to suggest he's no Doctor Dolittle, however.
"I don't know what these animals are thinking at a particular point in time," Jones says. "All I know is they're very sweet and they deserve a good home and that's what we're going to do."
Speaking from personal experience, the self-confessed animal-lover recalls his and his model wife Phylicia Jackson's recent heartbreak at losing one of their beloved dogs unexpectedly.
"Annoyingly, I think she was bitten by something up on Hampstead Heath," he says. "She had a really nasty allergic reaction to it on the Saturday and she was dead by the Monday morning.
"It was devastating. Honest to God, it was just crushing. It is just absolutely heartbreaking. That was Frances, who was 10. And we've got Dexter, the dog that is still with us now, who is coming up to six."
Could he be tempted by some of the rescue animals in hand?
"If anything, there's a part of you that says, 'Goodness me, is it worth having an animal that can leave you so soon because you have such a connection with them?'
"But the answer is 'Yes'. It's a testament to how wonderful it is to have a pet, because when they go, that's the level of devastation you feel.
"That's something you can only feel after something you've loved deeply, so I'd recommend an animal to anybody.
"My wife is very much looking for another dog. But it's difficult right now because of Formula 1 (Jones leads the presenting team on Channel 4 F1). I am always away and Phylicia likes to join me, so the animals go back to Wales to stay with my mother."
But the loved-up hunk - a one-time lothario with links to numerous famous women - wouldn't have it any other way.
"She's coming to Hungary this weekend and then we're doing a big Asian trip, because we have the Singapore Grand Prix, the Malaysian and the Japanese Grand Prix.
"We're going to fly to Thailand, have a bit of time there, then to Singapore, Vietnam, down to Malaysia and then across to Tokyo. She's never been to Asia before, so she's having a baptism of fire.
"I think it's like five weeks we're going to be staying out there. It's going to be awesome, so we're very excited."
As for marriage itself, Jones - who now resides in London - would "recommend it to anybody".
"Honest to God, it's just wonderful; she's a fantastic lady and my life is better than it has ever been before," he says. "It's more than I deserve - it's the best.
"All the things you normally take for granted, the enjoyment of it is increased by having someone else there who you love. It's so, so much better."
From a glitzy Formula 1 pit-lane to a cat and dog shelter in Newcastle, one thing that Jones can be sure of, however, is that his career will be one of much variety.
"I like new. I like different. I like a challenge," he maintains. "I like doing stuff I've never done before.
"You have to be diverse and selective. I always try and choose projects that I feel a connection with: I love cars, so F1 was a no-brainer; I love animals so Animal Rescue Live is a no-brainer. As for Sex Box, draw your own conclusions.
"Nowadays in TV, you've got to have a few strings to your bow, so, here comes the next one: doing a live pet rescue show. Bring it."
- Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special, Channel 4, Monday, 8pm