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Legends

Alison Hammond Is a Fucking Legend

Celebrity interviewer extraordinaire, and this week, captain of the high seas.

by Lauren O'Neill
05 October 2018, 11:23am

Image via ITV

This week, the much loved mid-morning TV show This Morning is 30 years old. I put it to you: is there anyone who doesn't like This Morning? It has everything, doesn't it? It's like Take a Break magazine writ large and stretched out over an hour and 30 minutes every single day, as a "Live Laugh Love" full wall decal aesthetic underpins genuinely quite surreal talking points (recently: "Is it time to ban cats?") b2b with segments where Phil Vickery makes a pasta sauce out of a load of frozen peas and calls it "student-friendly", and Eamonn Holmes tries it.

While it's got a warm overall vibe, like all of the best British TV This Morning is also always teetering on the mundanely but comically sublime (like, would Gogglebox's cosiness be quite as effective if it weren't offset by stuff like Mary from Wiltshire saying she wants her ashes scattered in Waitrose?), and I'd argue there's one regular This Morning presenter who exemplifies that important balance – throughout her every action, her every word – better than anyone.

More than Rylan, or Gino D'Acampo, or Fern Britton, or Eamonn Holmes (definitely more than Eamonn Holmes), or even, to be honest, Holly 'n' Phil, Alison Hammond is the legend responsible for many of This Morning’s most This Morning moments.

One such moment happened earlier this week. During a live broadcast dedicated to the show’s 30th birthday celebrations, Alison was livestreamed into the London studio from Liverpool, pulling into frame on a boat (arriving in style, exactly as she ought to be treated) and was promptly helped off by two lads dressed in sailor outfits. Except, of course, she lost her footing and shoved one of them right into the Mersey in a phenomenal display of twin services to both feminist action and memes, cutting right to the core of what's great about This Morning: something that is already knowingly eccentric tipping over into full blown, delightful absurdity.

It's not the only time she's done this kind of thing. Remember when she interviewed Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford about their Blade Runner remake, opening with the line "Bleak, dystopian – an absolute nightmare to be honest – and that’s just my interviewing techniques," before calling Ryan Gosling "Ry" less than two minutes in? Or when she interviewed celebrated Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh wearing a ruff? When she got The Rock to fake-propose to her to "see what it would be like"? When she called Tom Cruise "babes"??? The woman is an unfazed genius and, as such, creates some of the most batshit (and therefore the best) situations to ever grace This Morning.

Because while This Morning’s bread and butter is bringing zaniness to the otherwise fairly quotidian, nobody commits to the bit like Alison. Have you ever seen Holly dressed as Queen Victoria in order to interview someone who has played Queen Victoria? Of course you haven’t. Alison will do whatever is required for the banter – she will go to exactly the extent the banter needs to go, and no further, because her gift for timing is impeccable – and that's what makes her stand out. There is nobody else who could possibly be more watchable as they flail around onscreen having fallen on an in-studio inflatable flamingo, and This Morning would be a half-arsed sham without her.

I must also admit, however, to loving Alison for one particularly partisan reason: like me, she is from Birmingham, and crucially, she speaks like she is. Not since Ozzy Osbourne was captured shouting "YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE OCEAN" at the ocean on an episode of The Osbournes has anyone done as much for the positive reception of our much reviled accent (which one 2015 study described as "worse than staying silent"), as Alison Hammond does every time she makes a blessed appearance on This Morning, her vowels as flat as Diet Coke that's been left out at a party, her effervescent personality more than making up for them.

Ultimately, that personality – first introduced to the frankly ungrateful public on the third series of Big Brother, from which she was the second contestant evicted – is why Alison Hammond is so uniquely watchable and so perfectly at home on This Morning. It's a show which is all about getting to know the people on it (there’s a reason why your nan refers to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby by their first names only, like the Chers of British daytime TV), and when they're beamed into millions of homes every day, it’s easy to see how viewers develop a one-sided rapport with the people on their screens.

Alison – who treats famous people like anyone else she’d happily take the piss out of, like a kind of amazing anti-James Corden – is the best of the lot of them, because she’s just being herself. Where’s her chat show @ITV?

@hiyalauren