Alison Hammond should be prescribed on the NHS. An hour in her company, and we’ve not only belly laughed so much we’ve forgotten our earlier transport stresses, but she’s given us some brilliant life advice too. And we’re not the only ones who feel the Hammond effect, because during our chat at least five strangers call over to tell her how much they love her and think she’s ace.
Ever since she hilariously broke that table on Big Brother 3 with housemate and good friend Kate Lawler – a cause of great stress, FYI, because she thought she would have to pay for it – the public have taken Alison, 46, to their hearts.
Since then, her career has gone from strength to strength, culminating in co-hosting This Morning on Fridays with Dermot O’Leary, becoming the face of In The Style’s inclusive range, and releasing her autobiography, You’ve Got To Laugh, which we’re here to discuss. The key to her success isn’t that she’s nice or funny or down-to-earth, although she’s all those things. It’s because she connects easily with people and brings them joy – whether that’s telling notorious grump Harrison Ford she hadn’t seen his new film and cracking him up (to date 14 million people have viewed this phenomenon on YouTube and counting), ‘marrying’ The Rock, or accidentally knocking a sailor off the This Morning weather map into freezing cold water – it’s worth a Google.
Basically, she’s an absolute tonic, and who couldn’t do with a pint of that right now?
What made you decide to write your autobiography?
Mainly because I wanted some sort of legacy in this world and something for my son Aidan [who's 16] to have. With Covid and 18 months of uncertainty I thought, “What is my legacy? What has my son physically got to hold to?” And I thought, “It’s stories and it’s got to be my life story.” And, also, Aidan was so close to his nan, I thought I wanted to honour my mum as well and the fact that she passed away.
You were working as a holiday rep in Tunisia when you got a chance to be on Big Brother...
Yeah, that was my sliding doors moment. Well, I wanted to do Blind Date because I wanted to meet Cilla and I wanted to meet a bloke, so I thought, “This is a great thing to do.”
And I was in a bit of debt and someone said you could win £70K on Big Brother and I thought, “Oh that’s a good idea.” It was so weird because I got both the offers at the same time, and I had to pick and choose. I was so shallow, I didn’t choose love, I chose money!
You were sworn to secrecy about going into the show...
[Laughs] I told the world! Big Brother literally said whatever you do, don’t tell anyone, the only person you can tell is your mum. I told everyone at work, everyone at college, I told the whole world, strangers... I stood in front of the billboard, taking photos and doing a handstand up against it. And no one said anything. And then apparently Jade Goody actually did tell somebody and that went in the press, and then we did have to go into lockdown three days early.
Is it true you’d hadn’t ever watched the show?
I never watched it, but obviously when I knew I was going in I thought, I better watch a video of it, and I was like “What is this rubbish?”
I could literally only watch it for ten minutes and then I had to turn it off. I was like, “This isn’t me, but I will go in and win the money.” But I wish I had done more research because when I went in, I didn’t understand the whole concept of speaking in the diary room. You know, it’s a diary room, you should talk about who you do like, who you dislike. I thought it was like going to see the headteacher and I was too scared to tell them anything.
You were evicted second but have done amazingly well. It shows you don’t always have to win to do well…
It’s so true! I always think, “What would’ve happened if I’d won Big Brother? Would my career have gone in this direction?” And I don’t believe it would have, because the This Morning producer who watched my best bits never watched Big Brother but had just happened to turn on the channel when I was being evicted. They were watching and thought, “Oh she’s really funny, she’s eating all the food and having a right laugh.”
It’s totally fate, because if I’d won it, they wouldn’t have seen it and it would’ve been a different story.
You’ve done so many incredible celebrity interviews on This Morning. What’s your absolute favourite?
Oh, it’s got to be Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling – even though it’s got to be the worst interview I’ve ever done, content-wise.
For the energy of it and how we were all feeling on that day, it’s my favourite of all interviews. Just for the fact that Harrison Ford was so happy and he’s notorious for not enjoying interviews. He had such a good time, he gave me a kiss afterwards and said, “Thank you for giving me such a lovely morning.”
Another A-lister loving the Hammond is The Rock. We need to discuss…
If Kevin Hart [The Rock’s Jumanji co-star] was ordained and The Rock didn’t divorce you before marrying Lauren Hashian – we could be dealing with bigamy.
[Laughs] Do you know what’s funny? When I did all that stunt with the marriage, The Rock come in after we’d finished and he said, “You know the next time when we meet each other, you could pretend to be pregnant.” [Cackles] I said, “No, no, no, I won’t do that. What I’ll do is, I’ll bring the divorce papers!” and he was like, “OK, OK.” He was getting so into it. He was literally writing our next interview before I left! I was like, “Alright, alright, calm down. Let’s get this one out first.” He was getting really into the character!
Talking of ex partners, are you watching Strictly and cheering on Aljaz?
Obsessed, obsessed. I do love Judi Love and AJ [Odudu], Sara [Davies] and Aljaz – mainly because he is my ex-partner – and I loved Katie [McGlynn] and Gorka, there’s something about that Spanish accent that I just love. And do you know who made me really emotional? Rose [Ayling-Ellis].
I don’t know why I was crying when I watched her – she didn’t say anything upsetting or anything. I was just like, “Ohmygod, it must be so difficult to do that and not to be able to hear the beats or anything.” And she was so beautiful the way she was dancing, it made me so emotional watching it.
You’ve done a lot of reality shows, are there any you’d still like to do?
I’m obsessed with Married At First Sight and I would do it.
If they came to me and said, “Alison we have these three experts...” I’m not even joking, a million percent I would do it – because the experts sort out someone specifically for you. They are made for you. I obviously haven’t done a very good job, I’m 46. I trust Paul [C Brunson] – I met him on Celebs Go Dating. He’s fit as well, though obviously he’s married. He’s lovely. And literally I just think I trust them to come up with my husband. I would put money down that they would find the right person.
Let’s put it out there.
No, they don’t do celeb versions.
They might eventually…
I’d be all over it and I’d marry them tomorrow. I love that show, I’m obsessed with it. Obviously if I got some dud, I’d be absolutely fuming.
We love how you don’t care what people think and just go for it.
That’s because it’s not about what anybody thinks! Look at all the shows I’ve done, I don’t care. You know every single one of those shows – I did I’m A Celeb, I didn’t enjoy that that much, but I still made some nice friends. I did Celebs Go Dating and made some wicked friends there. I needed that Celebs Go Dating at the time because my mum was dying and it provided me with a distraction from what was going on in my personal life.. Every single one of those shows I don’t think “Oh I’m going on TV, what are people going to think?” I think, “What an experience, who am I going to meet? How nice is this!” You’ve got to see things as opportunities.
It's a refreshing attitude.
People need to stop worrying about what others are thinking and live their authentic lives. Take opportunities, enjoy it. Don’t not do something because of what someone else is saying. “You think what you want, that’s not my business. What you think I’m fat? Ain’t got nothing to do with me. I’m living my best life. Laters!” [Lets out her trademark laugh]
People are obsessed with your laugh. Instead of the Calm app, you should have your own where people can listen to your laugh and feel happy and energised.
Babes, you need to talk to my agent about this. This is such a good idea. I’d have it for free, though. But people have said, you’re like a medicine, so if you need a bit of laughter, bit of medicine, you go on the app. Honestly, I find it very hard to fake laugh though, so they’d just have to take it from recordings.
What does make you laugh?
Natural comedy. People who are naturally funny. Dermot makes me laugh if I’m honest with you. He really makes me laugh in the sense of, he doesn’t know he’s funny, but he really is quite funny. Yeah, but I don’t know. I think I make myself laugh! I find myself hilarious. [Cackles]
You've Got to Laugh is out now.
Read more in the latest issue of heat magazine - OUT NOW.