Last night, Channel 4 aired episode three of The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C and among the celeb contestants was the personification of joy, Alison Hammond. The British TV presenter brought her trademark cackle to the big white tent and of course, she didn’t disappoint.
Entertainment-wise that is, her baking, well, ahem, you heard the judges.
Alison showcased her confident and self-deprecating humour as she tried her hand at making brownies, Yorkshire puddings stuffed with beef and horseradish before, finally, attempting to make a gingerbread house. ‘Everything’s going smoothly. This is gonna make really boring TV,’ she brags at one point before delivering a textbook Hammond line.
‘Hold on, where’s the oven door gone?’
Hammond has had audiences obsessed with her ever since 2002 when she appeared in Big Brother season 3. Who can forget the time she broke the garden table in an attempt to speak to the security guards outside or winding up her housemate Alex by telling him she had weed in the communal shower? She only lasted two weeks in the house but upon her eviction, she was scouted by This Morning and has been delivering comedy gold on the daytime show ever since.
Hammond caused a splash when she knocked a male model into Liverpool's Albert Dock while presenting the weather on This Morning’s iconic floating map and people couldn’t get enough of her screaming ‘MEGS’ to get Meghan Markle’s attention during a Royal visit in Nottingham. Her screams had people in stitches when she took to the seas with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution but it was after her Bladerunner 2049 interview that the presenter got global recognition.
I’m pretty sure no interviewer has ever got Harrison Ford laughing as much as she did when she interviewed him and Ryan Gosling as they cracked open whiskey and mocked the latter’s knitwear. Both fell victim to the infectiousness of Hammond’s barrelling laugh and even now, having watched this clip a dozen times already, I still can’t help but giggle along with them too.
As well as currently appearing on E4 show, Celebs Go Dating, she’s now on TikTok delivering some bitesize laughter to get us through these uncertain times in lockdown; dancing with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, being shaded by Joe Lycett and lip-syncing movie quotes.
It’s this relatability that makes Hammond so appealing. She’s not your cookie-cutter TV presenter afraid of looking silly on screen. Her power comes from leaning into her ridiculousness and, for want of a better word, ‘unprofessionalism’. Hammond makes the viewer feel as much at ease as her interview subjects and once she starts laughing you’re under her spell.
It’s a wonder it has taken so long for the bubbly star to land her own TV shows but reports late last year suggested she was going to host her own daytime programme aptly called Hammond’s Happy Hour. But surely someone so entertaining deserves a prime time shot?
Hammond is a beautiful, black, plus-size woman, she is the picture of body positivity and with her trademark humour, laugh and interviewing style, she’d be perfect for a Friday night chat show slot. The presenting world still lacks a diversity of faces and it’s about time broadcasters made room for them.
Hammond has been putting the personality into ‘TV personality’ for nearly 20 years and people are only growing more in love with her. It would be a public service to give her own TV show and be able to laugh along with her more than in bitesize chunks on reality shows and This Morning.
It’s what we deserve. It’s what she deserves.
Grazia's Best Cookbooks
Rosamund DeanFor people… who are trying to eat more ethically.This beautiful book of absolutely scrumptious vegetarian recipes is organised by the seasons, with categories such as 'start of the year' and 'first warm days', making it easy to eat seasonally all year round.
Emma StoddartFor people... looking to make healthier meal options that still taste delicious. The 'flexitarian' recipes are mainly vegetarian but do encompass some fish and meat options, too. I was surprised to learn how much you can do with the humble lentil – and at £1.80 a packet, these recipes are great if you're on a budget.
Emma StoddartFor people... missing their desk lunchIf you don't want to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen but fancy a freshly cooked meal – this recipe book is for you. Every dish is easy to make, requires few ingredients, one pot, and most importantly, doesn't take up your entire evening. My absolute favourite is 'make a hash of this' with eggs, chorizo and potato – it's a great breakfast, lunch or dinner dish.
Lynn EnrightFor people... who want to get good at the basics.Want to make a roux? Or a pavlova? Or custard? Or looking to use up a particular fish or meat or vegetable? This is a brilliant resource for every kitchen, jam-packed with useful recipes and clear instructions. Indispensable.
Lynn EnrightFor people... who are missing Dishoom.No one is going to Dishoom for a while – and that's a hard blow to all of us who adore Dishoom. Luckily, this cookbook fills the gap. Admittedly, to get Dishoom-standard food, you have to put in the hours as the recipes are intricate and time-consuming, but you might yourself with the time over the next few months.
Lynn EnrightFor people... looking to reduce waste.This cookbook has no pictures and features quotes from Seneca and Chekhov. It's wordy and maybe also a little worthy – but I love it. It feels especially right for now, with an emphasis on avoiding waste and cooking from leftovers or with items often thrown away (the bones, the skin, the peel).
Anna DewhurstFor people... looking for fool-proof cooking.I mostly love this book because of its back-to-basics 70s style photography, but what this book does brilliantly is simple food, cooked well. It has step-by-step photos and a super-helpful timeline for all of the three-course meals – so there is little room for error. In fact, just looking at it now has got me very inspired for tonight's dinner (Farfalle with pesto, since you ask).
Anna SilvermanFor people… who want to feel like they're on that cancelled holiday in Southern France.A mixture of simple mid-week and showstopper dinner party meals using the kind of Mediterranean ingredients that make you feel like you'll live to 102. It's also divided into seasons, which feels especially helpful during corona-times - when we might find it harder to order exotic, out-of-season foods.
Joely WalkerFor people… who want veggie, fuss-free, easy-to-follow recipes with bloomin' delicious results.To be honest, I'd buy the book for Baxter's Brunch (page 39) alone (gruyere and Marmite sourdough with poached eggs – bliss), but it really is ideal for people who want speedy solutions with flavours that pack a punch.
Joely WalkerFor people... looking to cut down on meat.Proving veggie food goes well beyond your average onion and goats cheese tart, this new cookbook gives smart spins on classic dishes without trying to make things too fancy schmancy. Homecooked and delicious, but out there enough to impress dinner party guests.
Jasmine Langcaster-JamesFor people... who are fans of literature.It's a bit of a niche one - a collection of recipes taken from all the food/meal references in Hemingway's novels and short stories. It not only contains beautiful recipes of delicious and wholesome food but accompanies them with passages from Hemingway's fiction and some interesting biographical/geographical info. As Hemingway did a lot of camping in his time the cookbook actually has a good few tips for making the best of what you have in terms of ingredients so I personally think it would make a great read and inspiration to anyone in self-isolation with limited ingredients!
Rhiannon EvansFor people… who want to practice for the dinner parties to come.Pick any of the Nigella books tbh (and she also does great recipes on her Instagram every day) but I'm going for Forever Summer, because why not imagine you're about to pop off on a foodie trip if you're going to walk around the kitchen pretending you're as sassy and sultry as the Food Queen herself?
Rhiannon EvansFor people… with time on their hands and want to make instagrammable foodThe title of this book belies some classically complicated Ottolenghi dishes, so it's good if you've finally got some time of your hands (and you can get a delivery slot for all those spices). Definitely produces recipes for the grid.
Melissa HenryFor people... who know you are what you eat!I personally love this book as Xochi has the perfect mix of recipes that will suit both meat eaters (me) and non-meat eaters. Also doubles up as great cookbook for babies (see banana pancakes). She provides short paragraphs for each recipe, explaining the benefits, alternative ingredients to use (Banoffee Pie may not be suitable for breakfast but a Banoffee Chia pot definitely is), along with stories of how she was inspired. Along with this she's included a beauty section raising awareness of whether we actually know what we put in our bodies and provides natural alternatives to mainstream brands, such as how to make your own deodorant (still haven't braved this one yet), body scrub and hair rinse (I swear by this). Could not need this more than ever in my life now!
Natalie HammondFor people... who want to be whisked away on a taste holiday.There are so many delicious recipes in East, but the Chilli Tofu is my absolute favourite. It's an Indo-Chinese dish, often made with paneer instead of tofu, that mixes Indian spices (cumin seeds) with Chinese sauces (soy) to utterly glorious effect.
Rebecca HolmanFor people... who want proper old-school comfort food.From the banging chicken pie to the macaroni cheese that's the subject of far too many of my 3pm daydreams, this book is full of straightforward, delicious crowdpleasers.
Rebecca HolmanFor People...who want an evocative restaurant review with their recipesCome for the 40 iconic Brasserie Zedel recipes, including Soupe à l oignon, Moules marinières, Boeuf bourgignon, Profiteroles and Tarte au citron, stay for the late AA Gill's evocative history of the iconic French brasserie.
Rebecca HolmanFor people... who are obsessed with amazing Italian foodSo that's everyone, right? Anna Del Conte is the undisputed queen of Italian cooking, spanning far beyond the standard pasta dishes we all know and love. A must read.
Rhiannon EvansRenowned for his back-to-basics approach of cooking over fire, largely in the depths of Swedish forests and at his Michelin-starred restaurant Ekstedt in Stockholm, Niklas is a pioneer of outdoor cooking using traditional techniques including open fire grilling and foraging.
Rhiannon EvansOne night, Ella found herself lying on her kitchen floor, wondering if she would ever get up – and it was the thought of a chicken, of roasting it, and of eating it, that got her to her feet and made her want to be alive.Midnight Chicken is an honest and funny book about how cooking can save your life. It is the story of Ella's life in a Tiny Flat, and the food she cooked there, sharing stories and recipes that are about people, about love and about the things that matter every day. This is a cookbook-of-stories to make you fall in love with the world again.