Tomorrow, The One Show will celebrate ten years of informing, educating and entertaining the nation, so we caught up with hosts Alex Jones and Matt Baker to ask about their time on the show.
What do you think is the enduring appeal of The One Show?
Alex Jones: I think there are many things. One, it reflects the day that Britons have had. Second, it ends the day for young people and starts the evening for grown-ups. It covers such a vast array of topics sometimes in one programme. Nothing lasts any more than three or four minutes – if you don’t like this subject you may well like the next.
Matt Baker: It just sums up absolutely the perfect over-the-garden-wall conversation – the kind of conversation you’d have in a pub or some other community place. You’re flitting around all sorts of different subjects. You’re discussing them and then you move on. And to me, that’s how we in Britain like to have our conversations with people that we meet in our communities. So, we’re fizzing about one subject for a moment, then we’re fizzing about something completely different. Then someone else comes over and says “have you heard about this?”
AJ: … and I think because of that when there’s a level of glamour injected into it then it gets really exciting. Celebrities will come on and we’ll sometimes end up discussing really important things. Everyone gets involved in every topic.
Who are your most memorable celebrity guests?
AJ: Many for different reasons really. Hillary Clinton is probably up there as one of the guests we’ve really enjoyed having on the show.
MB: It was an extraordinary day. We’d had a leak in the studio so couldn’t broadcast from there. We had to go to old Broadcasting House. Obviously everyone had to be security checked. We didn’t find out until late in the day. So we moved The One Show sofa to the reception of old Broadcasting House. We actually saw Hilary walk across the reception behind us while we were on air. It’s not often that you get star-struck and that’s a lot to do with the show. Because we flit around subjects us as presenters are always in a position where we have to make sure the guest is at ease. And yet suddenly, Hillary Clinton walks in. It was a special moment.
AJ: She was just lovely. Guests like her surprise you. Kevin Spacey – he brought in Welsh Cakes. That was a nice gesture.
MB: Every single person hasn’t just come on the show to talk about their project. They’ve all been involved in some way shape or form in what’s been happening in Britain that day. In that way we’re an extension of the front room at home. We want them to feel as big a part of the show as the guests. As soon as you’ve got a Hollywood guest talking about things that people at home care about, that’s when the show really works. It’s perfect.
AJ: That’s when the show is really cohesive. Sometimes are guests will drop their guard. That’s when you can shock them with questions about the mundane. But they’re actually quite pleased to be asked.
But that’s something about you, isn’t it? You have the ability to cut-through and surprise people with stuff like that. Are you aware of that?
AJ: Not really, no. Because it’s live, we don’t really have time. Whether it’s someone who’s made a special film about an illness, or a family member, or it’s someone like Sir Elton John, and by treating everyone the same.
How would you describe the One Show?
MB: An eclectic mix of everything which is typically British. It’s eccentric. That’s what I love about it. Everything is possible. We can do whatever we want. We don’t shy away from ideas that people wouldn’t normally consider.
AJ: Or controversial sometimes.
MB: I like to give people a starting point with a subject. A guest will share something unexpected during a two or three minute piece and then the next thing you know someone has gone off, found out more about that subject and dedicated their life to it. That’s something I learnt back in the day on Blue Peter. The number of people I’ve met since who’ve said to me “I’m doing what I do today because of something I saw on Blue Peter.” For me, fundamentally, that’s what the One Show is really. It’s a friend that will introduce you to things so you can go off and explore it yourself.
Do you both feed into production?
AJ: Absolutely. Nobody would want to be a puppet. We come in at 2.30pm. We sit down with the editor and the producers and talk through the show. Everyone feeds into it. By the time we sit down for the show at 7.00pm the show could be entirely different from what had been discussed at the meeting.
That’s the joy of it.
MB: All we can do is set out a load of things we think might work with the person we’re interviewing that night. We’ll decide when we’re sitting there what’s working and what doesn’t. We’ll change our line of questioning according to how they respond. You’ve got to be fluid like that.
AJ: There has to be spontaneity. That’s why we do it live. You never know what will happen.
What’s been the hairiest moment on The One Show?
MB: We’ve had lots of animals going to the toilet on us ….
AJ: Do you remember Matt when Sandi Toksvig was on and that massive vulture came to the studio?
MB: Actually yes, that was pretty hairy. She jumped a mile. Then there was that time when David Cassidy who had his face nearly bitten off by a llama. He was kissing the llama saying “Oh aren’t you lovely.” We looked on in horror telling, “No! Don’t do that! Don’t do that!” The llama lurched at his face – he got out of the way just in time.