TV’s Big Brother seems to been a blessing or a curse on the careers of its previous contestants.
Fortunately for Birmingham-born Alison Hammond, her two weeks in the infamous Big Brother house did not spell the end of her time on television or her career in general.
Instead, she went on to maintain a presence as a familiar face in day time TV, securing a role as a presenter on ITV’s This Morning where she has remained for the last 11 years.
She is also a bit of a panto veteran and will be taking on the role of Fairy in the forthcoming panto, Jack And The Beanstalk, which will staged at The Deco theatre in Northampton from December 12–27.
She said: “This is going to be my seventh panto, so I have done a few. I think the secret to panto is taking it seriously. You have to take it seriously as for those kids it might be the first piece of theatre they have ever seen and they absolutely love it, they get absorbed into it. So it is taking it seriously, having fun, being able to react to your audience and being able to think on the spot and I think that is the secret really.
“I didn’t even know there was a fairy in Jack And The Beanstalk, but that is what I am playing. It’s not traditional, the fact we have a fairy in it, but we are just going to make it work.”
An important part of performing panto is also being able to think quickly, Alison said.
“You never know what to expect with panto. It goes wrong, especially when I’m on the stage, I forget lines all the time. So, I have to be able to think on my feet and everyone around me has to be able to as well.”
Alison’s enthusiasm for panto is certainly undeniable. She said: “It is interesting that there is a stigma about panto, a lot of actors look down on it.
“People do look down on it but it is one of the most wonderful things you can actually do. I absolutely adore it. It ends my year on a high.”
Although it has been many years since she left the Big Brother house, the programme still has a place in Alison’s heart... although she admits it has perhaps lasted for long enough.
She said: “I do still watch it actually, I am quite fond of the show. I didn’t watch it last year but this year I’ve really been into Celebrity Big Brother. Yes, it has gone on for long enough, but it doesn’t stop me from watching it for some reason. I think it was finished when Davina (McCall) left, to be honest with you, but I still really enjoy it, I don’t know why. I think you can really get into watching one episode and get into watching it straight away.
“Two weeks after I came out of Big Brother – I only lasted two weeks – I got a call saying ‘do you want to do a bit of work with us on This Morning?’
“So obviously I said ‘yes, all right, I’ll do it’. They said ‘we’ll give you a three-month contract’ and I said ‘wicked, then I’ll go back to my normal job’. But then I did my three-month contract and they asked if they could give me a year contract and that year went on to two years and I have been there for 11 years now.
“And I have just signed up for another year now so that will have been 12 years. I think I’m going to be there until I’m old and grey to be honest with you.”
The job has led Alison into the paths of many celebrities.
“I really enjoyed all the celebrity interviews. I have done Hugh Jackman four times and each time I see him I have so much fun ... did that sound rude? Will Smith is great as well, he always gives 110 per cent.
“In my first interview ever, they had given me the job to do the red carpet and I interviewed George Clooney and his girlfriend and it all went really well. I didn’t realise the protocol was once you have done an interview you don’t do any more. But I saw him coming back and I thought ‘he is coming back, I might as well do another interview’, I got my microphone and literally thumped him right in the face. Luckily, he took it with a bit of kindness and the next time I interviewed him he completely remembered me and said ‘have you got your microphone?’ I said ‘no, you are ok’. He is quite sweet actually, I don’t think he will ever forget me.”
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