Always dapper and dashing, Dr Hilary Jones has graced the sofas of morning and daytime TV for three decades this year.
From the early days of TV-am, to Lorraine and This Morning, he’s been ITV’s official medical expert.
‘I can’t believe it’s 30 years, I’ve talked to Lorraine about this, who’s been doing it longer.
'We still really enjoy doing what we do, we’ve worked together all these years, we are very sincere and genuine in what we’ve done.’
Yet give him a choice, and he’d rather be up a tree!
‘I’m just very good at logging and find it very satisfying,’ he says in that calm smooth manner that has made millions of us trust his advice.
Hard as it is to imagine Britain’s favourite TV doctor scruffy and sweating, halfway up a tree with a chainsaw in his hand, it seems to be something of a regular occurrence for Hilary.
‘We live in a wooded area and have a big garden with lots of trees.
'They are fabulous but need to be managed and I’m just very happy scaling and pruning trees.
'I’ve always done it.’
Hilary and his third wife, fitness trainer Dee Thresher, live in an old ‘quirky’ house in Kent.
‘It’s just old and nothing’s in a straight line, and nothing’s level.
'It’s a nightmare for decorating, but we just love the house.’
Because they both work, the couple share the chores: ‘I’m pretty good at maintenance, I’ve always got a project on.
'Dee does all the cooking though because I don’t really go in the kitchen!
'She’s Cypriot and cooks some wonderful dishes.’
Between them they have eight children and three grandchildren.
‘It’s lovely being a grandparent, I’m sure we’ll have more,’ says the doctor.
Hilary and Dee share the house with Harley, a two-year-old Springer Spaniel.
‘He has boundless energy, a lovely friendly nature and is great company.
'As long as he’s got a ball or a stick, he’s fine.
'Luckily we’ve got a decent-sized garden.’
Hilary is reluctant to talk about his private life.
Both his previous marriages ended in divorce amid rumours of affairs and, for a while, he was healthy fodder for the papers.
He and Dee met in 2008 when they worked together on GMTV.
He has said in the past: ‘We’re very relaxed together, laughing a lot and catching up with our friends.
'Life is great.’
Hilary grew up in West London where his dad was a GP and his mum was a nurse.
‘If anything, my dad being a doctor influenced me away from a medical career because I could see how hard he worked.
'In those days it really was seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
'I also did all the wrong A Levels for medicine – English, History and French, totally useless.’
Indeed, at school (Latymer in Hammersmith) he showed more prowess with a sword than a scalpel.
‘We had a really wonderful drama society, largely run by the English teachers, it was very high quality.
'It produced many a fine actor and musician, including Hugh Grant and, in my year, Mel Smith.
'We would put on great productions in the school hall, we took it very seriously.
'When we did Henry IV, we were taught how to have sword fights with a real sword.
'One night we were fighting on stage and some sparks flew off the swords.
'The audience gasped because they thought they were toy swords.’
Eventually though, Hilary did choose medicine.
‘After A Levels I thought, “Where now?”
'I decided I’d go to medical school and do a year’s conversion course to science, which you could do in those days.
'That was hard, and a slog for me, I’m not really academic.
'Once I got to a hospital ward and talked to patients and real people, instead of text books, I felt I’d made the right decision.’
His TV career began because he literally wrote a letter saying, ‘give us a job’.
‘I just felt that you could reach so many people on TV and give advice, so I thought I’d write in.’
He joined TV-am in 1989 and hasn’t left our screens since.
Often he has to give advice on nonsensical subjects.
Like the recent ‘storm in a G cup’ when Lorraine Kelly announced that she slept in her bra every night.
Dr Hilary was called in to give his advice.
(The upshot is, there is no medical advantage or disadvantage, he just thought it was odd.)
‘That’s the kind of thing we do get involved in,’ he says a little wearily, ‘but equally I believe we have saved lives by making people aware.
'We’ve had lots of letters at work where people have seen something and then gone to the doctor.
'People have spotted signs of meningitis in their child, which they wouldn’t have done if they hadn’t seen our item on the TV.
'Or they spotted the signs of bowel or breast cancer.
'For me that justifies and validates what we do.’
At 65, Hilary’s once dark hair is now a distinguished grey, but he’s trim and fit.
He exercises regularly and eats healthily.
‘Fortunately I love fruit and vegetables so it’s no hardship to eat those.
'I like to go for a run or to the gym or cycling, I do something every day so I’m not so obsessive about not eating certain things.
'I like a good glass of wine.
'My dad said life is too short not to drink a decent bottle of wine.
'Mind you, I do have a weakness for apple crumble!’
If only the rest of the nation were like him.
Shockingly, Hilary says two thirds of us Brits are now clinically obese or overweight.
‘It’s the new normal,’ he says, ‘It’s too late for today’s adults but we should do something about children.
'We need to teach them about nutrition and to cook for themselves.
'So many children have never known what it is like to feel fit and healthy.
'I was lucky to have been brought up having an active outdoor lifestyle.
'I was much happier making mud pies than going into an amusement arcade.’
He has recently started working for MedTate, a company whose mission it is to educate people about the right types of supplements and what nutrients are available naturally.
‘I’m totally in tune with prevention rather than treatment.’
As a famous doctor he must get people coming up to him all the time asking for advice.
‘Oh, I do but you have a certain responsibility.
'I’m not into corridor consultations.
'If you have a problem, come and see me in my surgery.
'I’m happy to give general advice but not specifics.’
He accepts fame as part of the job: ‘Sometimes you want to be private in a restaurant and someone pulls up a chair and sits down and asks about their health.
'It’s a double-edged sword.
'On the whole I’m grateful.’
So, what will the next 30 years bring?
‘Well, I doubt I’ll still be on television!
'I just hope to be living my life as fully and healthily as possible.
'Probably not up a tree by then though…'
How do you spend your Sunday?
■ Lie-in or up with the lark?
Usually up with the lark, but an occasional lie-in is very nice.
■ What would be your perfect Sunday?
A walk with the dog.
Some exercise, like a run or a cycle ride, hopefully with a few others.
Then a Sunday lunch with the family, a couple of drinks.
And if it’s good weather, a bit of tree logging.
■ Sunday roast at home or pub lunch?
A bit of both, a pub lunch is great but not too often.
There’s nothing like home cooking.
We like having the family round and sharing a few stories and jokes and having a rib at each other.
We’re all fantastic teasers.
■ Papers or telly?
I like to sit and peruse a variety of papers in the morning with a coffee.
I don’t know what all the different coffees are, to me a bog-standard coffee is fine.
If I’m lucky Dee will make me a strong Greek coffee, a metrio, which is how coffee should be, but it involves a bit of work.
Source: Read Full Article