Vinnie Jones in a scene from the TV series Vinnie Jones: Russia's Toughest.
Vinnie Jones in a scene from the TV series Vinnie Jones: Russia's Toughest. National Geographic Channels/Stas Solntsev - Contributed by Foxtel

Jones tackles toughest jobs

HE'S taken down competitors on the soccer pitch and played mobsters on the big screen, but Vinnie Jones finds out what he's really made of in his new show.

Russia's Toughest sees the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels star spend a day on the job in the country's most unforgiving conditions with men who are arguably some of the sturdiest in the world.

"We wanted the toughest of the tough, and those guys are out there," Jones told The Guide.

"It doesn't matter what the weather conditions or what nature throws at them, these people are still doing their jobs.

"It dawns on you, crikey they're used to this."

Vinnie Jones: Russia's Toughest - The National Geographic Channel - Tuesdays at 8.30pm Qld, 9.30pm NSW.

The six-part series sees Jones bailing up salmon poachers in the swamps of Kamchatka, getting around the muddy bogs in Second World War-era tanks, and serving as a bodyguard for the Russia's elite.

"I was hesitant about a lot of stuff but you know, mind over matter," he said.

"I really wanted to show the audience how tough it was. Imagine doing this day after day.

"It puts it all in perspective. It was quite easy being tough in Hollywood compared to these guys, and the pay they get for it is quite minimal."

This week's episode features Jones's journey to the end of a railway line in remote northern Russia, where he helps mechanics repair the ageing trains and visits the remnants of a Gulag prison camp used to house the prisoners who were forced to build the line.

"The railway stuff goes back generations," he said.

"They better themselves by getting higher up in the railways. The guy who makes the nuts and bolts (for the trains) down in the furnace, it's the room from hell. It's like being in the devil's cave down there."

But some of Jones's hairiest moments were getting up close with some of Russia's wildlife, like bears and whales.

"The most overwhelming thing was when I jumped in with the beluga whales," he said.

"I can remember swearing at the cameraman, 'Well you (expletive) get in'. You're standing there and the guy is saying do this and don't do that... I definitely bit off more than I could chew a lot of times."

He was full of praise for his film crew, who were often putting their own lives on the line as well to capture the footage.

"The cameraman, honestly, has to win awards for this," he said.

"In the episode with the bears we were all backing off and he came up - he's only a small fellow about half the size of me - and jumped straight in front of them. I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. He was in between the salmon and the grizzly bear mother and her cubs.

"He must see something different down the lens of that camera. He was hanging out of a helicopter by a rope to get a shot. Health and safety regulations were out the window."

Australia is amongst the locations Jones and the producers are scouting for the second series.

"I'd love to do Australia," he said.

"We're always looking for stuff that's different. In Russia we filmed a lot of stuff that's never been done before.

"We're looking at Australia and India. We want to go to places where cameras haven't been before."

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