TV's Gethin Jones: 'I was dignified when we split up'
Game show host Gethin Jones discusses his 'un-real' love life
Who'd have thought it, but Gethin Jones has a crush on a fellow former Blue Peter presenter. “I saw Anthea Turner at a golf tournament and she's so pretty, so hot, I couldn't really talk,” says the Welshman. “She's fit anyway, but the fact she used to be a Blue Presenter makes her even fitter. Imagine if we got married,” he muses. “Can we start this campaign? Imagine the animals!”
Turner wasn't the reason he'd turned up to the event, he insists. He is, in his own words, “a bit of a golf nut”.
“Just playing in the middle of nowhere, it's just you and this little white ball, which a lot of people wouldn't understand, but for me it's a chance to reflect. It's pure escapism.”
Something he no doubt sought out during his break-up with Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins. The pair began dating in 2007, got engaged in February 2011 — then announced their split 10 months later.
It was “a difficult time”, admits 36-year-old Jones. “I read a lot of stuff that wasn't true about her and me. I think that (not reacting) is what she (Katherine) taught me, in fairness.
“It was just about being a gentleman and being dignified and that's all I cared about. Even now, if I read something, I never react to it because it doesn't make a difference, you know?”
Jenkins is now engaged to American director Andrew Levitas, and going by the headlines, handsome Jones has no shortage of interest.
“This year, I've seemed a bit of a stud and been associated with many pretty girls. If only that was true in reality, I'd be a happy man,” he says, laughing. “My mam thinks I'm going out with a new girl every week, she believes the Daily Mail over me.”
He denies he's dating the television presenter Amanda Byram. “It's strange. We're really good friends and because she's single and I'm single, it's like there must be something going on. Kelly Brook's just a friend and that was in the paper, Susie Amy's another one. Then again, I think it's quite nice that people, a bit like family, want me to find someone.”
But until “a very special lady” comes along, or Anthea comes knocking at the door (and they “retire and go and live on a beach in Hawaii — or Penarth”), Jones insists his focus is very much on his career.
His latest project is a new quiz show for ITV Daytime called 21st Question, in which 11 contestants compete to get on the 'power spot'. Whoever's standing on the power spot when the 21st and final question is asked gets the chance to win £40,000.
“I've learnt our wonderful public are both incredibly intelligent and incredibly thick under pressure,” jokes Jones. “When you put the both together in a battle sequence of questions, anything can happen, and that dynamic makes great television.”
Although an avid rugby player during his student days at Manchester Metropolitan University, financial restraints meant Jones had to rethink his career aspirations. He took a few odd jobs before moving into television, via the Welsh channel S4C. It was in 2005 that he became a Blue Peter presenter, a job he remained in for three years.
“Someone the other day said, ‘I used to watch you on Blue Peter', and I was like, ‘That's impossible, you're a grown woman'. It's amazing (to think) people grew up with you.”
The show placed him on the public's radar and, on reflection, he realises he was “properly naive” regarding press invasion.
“But there's no course you can take,” he says, recalling the time a newspaper journalist, under the guise of a window cleaner, rolled up at his mum and dad's place when he was on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007.
“My mum and dad can't cope with that, but you don't want to become cynical.”
Perhaps this perspective is due to the fact that he didn't chase a career in TV from an early age. In fact, he feels he was a relative latecomer to working on the box, which means he can emphasise with contestants' nerves on his new show.
“I wasn't always on telly, so I guess I suppose I was human before I became a presenter, if that makes sense,” says Jones, laughing.
“The people (who come on) are quite determined, but put them in front of a camera and it can change things, so we do all (sorts of) things beforehand; dancing and having a laugh together.”
Thanks to a savvy business head (“I've always been a bit careful and invested in a couple of businesses outside of TV, because you never know with this job”), Jones, who lives in London but has another home in Cardiff, is in the enviable position of being picky when it comes to work.
“I don't go, ‘How much (does it pay)?' I ask, ‘What is it?',” he reveals. “The only reason I do the job is I can help other people, and I feel very blessed doing it.”
- 21st Question begins on ITV on Monday, at 5pm