Alison Hammond is celebrating the launch of her new book, You’ve Got To Laugh, when we meet up with her in London. Sitting next to a supersize cardboard cut-out of the cover, Alison is beaming with excitement and pride.
“This book is like having a piece of me in your house,” she says. “I absolutely loved writing it. It’s like a gift to everybody.”
From diets and dating to her career, there’s no holding back in the memoir. But Alison admits she’s not worried about what people might think.
“I wrote it with love and I wrote it from the heart. It’s true to what I believe so I’m not that nervous about it,” Alison tells us. “If you don’t like me, you don’t like me!”
The vivacious TV presenter found fame on the 2002 series of Big Brother and went on to become one of the show’s most successful contestants, despite being the second housemate to be evicted.
She took part in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! in 2010 and has been a guest presenter on This Morning since 2003.
Alison now co-presents the show with Dermot O’Leary on Fridays – and tells us she “loves” his company.
Here, Alison, 46, who is mum to 16-year-old son Aidan, opens up about motherhood, romance and loving her body…
Congrats on the book, Alison!
I’m buzzing. I can’t believe I’ve got a book. I’ve got a legacy now to leave for my family and my son. I’ve never felt so proud. I’m over the moon.
We’re surprised you haven’t written one before now…
Me too! It’s a crime as far as I’m concerned [laughs].
How would you describe your book?
You know one of those confetti bombs? It’s like that. It starts off slow and then it just goes, “Bam!”
It’s called You’ve Got To Laugh, but there are sad moments in there as well. But you’ve still got to laugh even in those sad times because, ultimately, that’s life and we all go through those low moments.
I’ve been open and honest in my writing – I talk about everything. I talk about my mum dying, I talk about my showbiz world and I talk about the men in my life.
Should any of the men in your life be worried?
They should all be worried – I tell all their secrets! No, I don’t really. I could have really gone to town on all my blokes but, to be fair, I’ve been very lucky.
The exes that I’ve had have all actually been quite wonderful. It’s me that’s the problem! [Laughs] It’s me who’s the issue in a relationship, but I’m working on that.
I struggle being with someone because I’m so independent, that’s the problem. A man needs to be needed, don’t they? But I always think I can do everything for myself.
Is dating a priority for you?
It’s not, if I’m honest, but I might go on Tinder again soon. I tried to get on that celebrity dating app, Raya, but they wouldn’t accept me – I was fuming.
I’ve been waiting for a year to be accepted so I’ve deleted the app now. Who needs Raya anyway when you’ve got Tinder?!
Is it hard being on a dating app when you’re in the public eye?
It’s so hard. They say, “Why are you using Alison Hammond as your profile picture?” and I go, “Because I am Alison Hammond.” They’re like, “Sure you are.”
You’re a busy woman. Do you even have time to date?
No! That’s why it would need to be someone really special. Maybe I should get a pen boyfriend and we could just write to each other. I’ve got weekends – I could give them weekends. And they could come and see me at work, I suppose.
You say in the book that some of your exes found it hard that you were the centre of attention when you went out…
Yeah. One of my exes would be like, “I’m here as well, you know.” He didn’t like it. I need someone really secure who gets it and who’s OK with the fact that people know who I am.
You also admit that you wish you’d had another child…
I really do. I wish I’d banged out two at the same time. As soon as I had Aidan I went straight on contraception because the doctors encourage you to.
I wish I hadn’t listened and just banged another baby out then. I’m so disappointed as I always saw myself with five or six kids, not one.
I’ve got so much love to give, I need six to share it all around.
Would you ever adopt?
Never say never. But I’d want to do it with a partner and I’m not with anyone at the moment. You can do it on your own, but I don’t want to.
You’re very open about your body in the book. Do you feel body confident?
Yeah. I’ve got an amazing body – it’s climbed the Atlas Mountains and had a child.
You’ve said people treated you differently when you lost weight. In what way?
People were just more interested when I was slimmer – and nicer! People pay you more attention when you lose weight.
They’re more interested in what you’ve got to say and are more interested in being around you. It’s the weirdest thing. People are obsessed with dieting and being slim. I’ve tried everything – every diet going.
I’ve even had a gastric band. I’m still a big girl. Sometimes I think I should just resign myself to it. But I do try to eat healthily. I’m not young any more, so I’ve got to try and lose a little bit of weight purely for the strain on my knees and my ankles.
And so that I can be around for my son as long as possible.
Do you enjoy working out?
I go to the gym and I go for walks. I’ve also got weights in the garden. But I’ve always been a big girl. I don’t like getting to the gym, but once I’m there, I love it. Plus it makes it easier when you’ve got a nice personal trainer.
We enjoy watching you on This Morning . How are you finding presenting the show?
I love it – I really look forward to Fridays. In the beginning I was so nervous and it was hard to get into the flow of it. But now I feel so excited every week.
You and Dermot O’Leary make a great partnership!
I think it’s lovely and fresh. I love Dermot’s company. He’s lovely.
Do you have any other career aspirations?
I want my own Saturday night show. I’d have a big picture of myself and my name in lights. I’d start it off with a big show number – something like me with Kylie Minogue – and then I’d interview her. It would be amazing. Bring it on!
Finally, October marks Black History Month. How important is that to you?
It’s lovely to see Black people represented on TV as I didn’t as a child. I’m watching Strictly and there are really powerful Black women on it this year, which is so inspiring for me. It’s very rare to see. We’ve got a long way to go, but hearts and minds have been opened and that makes me so joyful.
My son believes he can do anything in the world because he now sees Black representation.
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You’ve Got to Laugh: Stories from a Life Lived to the Full by Alison Hammond (Bantam Press, £20) is out now. Alison and Dermot are presenting This Morning daily from 18 to 22 October at 10am, on ITV and ITV Hub.
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