Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond recall meeting 20 years ago on Big Brother

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It’s nearly 20 years since bubbly Brummie Alison Hammond met Dermot O’Leary, when he interviewed her after she’d just been voted out of the Big Brother house. Now they are celebrating six months as the co-hosts of Friday’s edition of This Morning. And as lockdown restrictions ease, the double act are looking forward to socialising together.

“We haven’t been to each other’s houses yet – but that is to come soon, I’m sure,” says 46-year-old Alison.

“Dermot has already told me that as soon as this is all over, I’m invited to his house to meet his son and he said he’s going to cook for me. I can’t wait – that will be amazing.”

Meanwhile, Dermot is looking forward to a tour of the Midlands. “Will there be wild nights out?” says Dermot, 48. “Yes! She’s promised to take me to Birmingham.”

Hearing the duo discuss their double act, you can see why ITV decided to pair up the show’s motormouth showbiz reporter with one
of TV’s most popular stars, as they bounce off each other fabulously. Yet they can’t help but laugh when we compare them to Ant and Dec…

Hi, Alison and Dermot! What have you enjoyed most about working together?

Alison: It’s been an absolute dream. I’ve loved every minute of it to be honest! I think the best thing really is getting to know Dermot. He always shows me pictures and videos of his baby and his cats, so I’m finding out so much more about him and his wonderful family. He’s just a really cool person.

Dermot: Getting to know the lovely Alison even more. We knew each other and we have always got on very well but we didn’t know each other well, so our chemistry has had to grow and adapt on air. When we first met via Big Brother, it was such an innocent time and before social media. You did well in the house by being yourself and Alison was always 100% herself. And it’s easy to say now that she was always destined to do this, but there’s a world of difference between being yourself in a reality show and being able to host a show. There aren’t that many people who can do that. Alison’s one, Rylan’s one… You can count them on one hand really.

Your initials are A and D. Should Ant and Dec be worried you’re taking over?

Alison: Well, there’s definitely one taller and one shorter, but I think that might be where the similarities end. We’re more like Laurel and Hardy!
Dermot: I imagine Ant and Dec are sleeping quite soundly.

What’s your all-time favourite This Morning moment?

Alison: Gosh, there are so many. I think when we all went back to the Albert Dock in Liverpool for the 25th anniversary of the show and also had a big party in London, that was pretty special. Just listening to Richard and Judy talk about what it was like then was great. It was a bit like a dream. Other fun moments have included my chat with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling – that went a bit crazy on social media.

Dermot: That is genuinely up there as one of the greatest moments of telly. When you’re feeling blue and you need something to pick you up, it’s just one of the most feelgood five minutes you’ll get.

What have you learnt about each other over the past six months?

Alison: I’ve learnt that Dermot is very patient, very kind and very, very generous. We’ve definitely got each other’s back and it’s like a great brother-sister relationship. But what has been hard with lockdown is not being able to sit next to each other and be tactile. We haven’t been to each other’s houses yet – but that is to come soon, I’m sure. Dermot has already told me that as soon as this is all over, I’m invited to his house to meet his son and he said he’s going to cook for me – I can’t wait. That will be amazing.

Dermot: Alison is brilliant at her job. When you work with someone on live television, you can’t be afraid about going off script and having fun and she is one of the best for that.

You’ve been a big hit with the viewers. Does it actually feel like work?

Alison: We do have the best time and it is a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work as well! We had to take time to find our feet. My main critic is my son and he texted me recently saying, “Mum, I love you and Dermot – today’s show was brilliant.” When I get a message like that from him, I’m happy. Dermot and I do bring Friday lols! We can deliver our more serious side too when it’s needed, but I do feel like there will always be a dash of Friday fun sprinkled on top.

Dermot: I just haven’t worried myself about the ratings or any external pressures really. It’s a great fun job, but you get your brief late on a Thursday – and I play football on Thursdays and I thought I would have to give it up. I’ve worked out that I can get there, eat and shower quickly after and then I’ll sit down about 9pm and do about an hour’s prep and still get a good night’s sleep before the show… so I’ve sorted a good routine. But I still can’t quite believe – both of us actually feel this way – that some of the world’s best chefs come in and cook us lunch every Friday. What a perk! The food part of the show never feels like work.

Alison, you lost both of your parents last year and were particularly close to your mum. What do you think she would have made of you hosting This Morning each Friday?

Alison: She would have been over the moon. It’s so bittersweet that this has happened and she’s not here to see it. Having said that, I do still feel her presence. I do think she is still guiding me. She loved my showbiz world. She used to love coming along with me to events and meeting celebrities – she was always in her element doing that. She was totally my number one fan and was always mega proud of me. In a way I’m living my mum’s dream.

Dermot, you became a dad [to son Kasper] last year, so did you get to watch more daytime TV? And has fatherhood changed you?

Dermot: Well, it was always on in the background, but Kasper is a handful – he’s a pretty good sleeper, but you can’t really sit around watching too much telly with him, that’s for sure. When you become a parent I think you do view the world slightly differently. Becoming a parent can’t help but change you – I cry at a lot more TV ads now.

See Dermot and Alison on This Morning on Friday at 10am on ITV

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