A Minute with Bob Jones

Classic FM's presenter in the early hours loves a coffee and a pasty while parked in a lay-by overlooking the Irish Sea in the rain. And that's not all...

If you could sit down and have a coffee with one great composer, who would it be?
I love Sibelius and actually made a trip a few years back to Lahti in Finland where he lived. I found they are big coffee and cake people!

Favourite ever interviewee or guest?
I interviewed about 1,000 people for Classic FM when I was doing the daily podcast. I loved speaking to Mary Costa who was the voice of Princess Aurora in the Disney cartoon Sleeping Beauty; Lorna Luft was fascinating. I always love talking to Karl Jenkins and Harry Christophers - they are just so down to earth. Ended up having a huge rambling amazing conversation with the young composer Nico Muhly who was in Iceland at the time. We talked about anything but music. I think I like asking people about the mechanics of performing and trying to find out something unexpected about them.

If you could be a musical instrument, which would you be?
It has to be the harp. One of my primary school teachers played the harp and brought it in from time to time and I was totally transfixed by it. I know the harpist Elinor Bennett very well, and she always plays something for me when I drop round for tea or to do an interview. It's joyous.

Most embarrassing on-air moment?
The first day of a new news programme when I was at a radio station in Shropshire. A technical fault meant all the jingles and news reports played one after the other in the first minute and they couldn't stop it. I had to read for 15 minutes straight with people running in to bring me extra material. Hair raising, but I stayed calm and I got my next job on the strength of it.

Who would be your four perfect dinner party guests?
In history: Bach, Beethoven, Handel and Haydn. Not sure they'd get on.
Today: Joan Bakewell, Simon Callow, Derren Brown and Helena Kennedy for some good hearty conversation. And even if it wasn't I think Derren Brown would make us think we had had a good time.

First pet?
A border collie dog called Moss. He used to look after me when I was a toddler. We lived in the country and if the back door was open I would wander off, but the dog would stay with me and herd me back if I went too far. He gave me his dog biscuits to eat. A true friend. I now have very good teeth as a result.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream on a hot day by the sea. Or a flask of coffee and a pasty, parked up in a lay-by overlooking the Irish Sea in the rain.

Most memorable concert you attended?
Being flown with the Royal Philharmonic to the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, for a long weekend to see the violinist Marat Bisengaliev play to a home audience. At the reception afterwards I ate horse's bottom (although I didn't know at the time). Yum.

What’s your favourite way to relax?
Walking the mountains of Snowdonia. Cooking.

Which superpower would you like to have?
Flying or X-ray vision. I'm nosey.

What's your favourite snack when you're feeling a bit peckish in the Classic FM studio?
I eat tons of mixed nuts or cranberries. I usually cross over with Anne-Marie Minhall or Lucy Coward on news and we tend to cook for each other and swap recipes.

What ambition are you still to fulfill?
To visit every country in the world. I love travelling.

All-time favourite piece of music?
Anything by Bach, Sibelius or Novak. If I could have only one piece it would be Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith.

All-time favourite book?
1984. Like Orwell, I used to work at the World Service and you can see exactly where he got his ideas from.

All-time favourite film?
I love sci-fi, but would opt for Strictly Ballroom for all-round entertainment. Greyfriars Bobby makes me cry. Any Carry On film, but probably Kind Hearts and Coronets would be my all time favourite.