IT’S 20 years since she won the nation’s hearts in Big Brother and, last night, Alison Hammond cemented her position as TV’s golden girl.
The bubbly star, 48, presented the prestigious Bafta film awards alongside Richard E. Grant and was a smash hit with viewers, whose only gripe was that she was not on stage enough.
One fan tweeted: “Alison Hammond is an absolute joy. She should be at the helm.” Another added: “This show needs more Alison Hammond.”
The night is one more jewel in the crown of the new Queen of TV – a mantel she has been quietly stealing from This Morning co-star Holly Willoughby, who has reigned supreme since joining Phillip Schofield on the daytime show in 2009.
ITV is reportedly keen to lock Alison into a “golden handcuffs” deal, meaning she would be unable to work on any other channel, and she is being lined up to front many new shows, including the upcoming reboot of Big Brother.
Her popularity has soared since she took over Friday duties on This Morning, with Dermot O’Leary, in January 2021 and last summer the pair were praised after filling in during Holly and Phil’s extended break.
But, while they are close friends, Alison is said to be nervous about butting heads with Holly as new opportunities come her way.
“Alison is freaking out a bit behind the scenes. She doesn’t want to be accused of stepping on Holly’s toes,” a source told Closer recently.
“She’s afraid to bring anything up with her, even though she thinks Holly will be supportive – she’s too embarrassed.”
The Bafta awards, considered a huge honour in any presenter’s CV, comes after a tough year for Holly, 41.
In October, her daytime TV crown slipped when she and Phil were accused of jumping the queue at the late Queen’s lying in state.
Over 79,000 people signed a petition to have the pair axed from This Morning over “queuegate”.
Shortly afterwards, Alison made history as the first black TV star to be shortlisted for a Best Presenter gong at the National Television Awards.
Holly and Phil were snubbed in the category and were booed at the ceremony.
The star also suffered a rare failure when Feel the Fear with Wim Hof, a show she brought to the BBC with producer husband Dan Baldwin, was axed after one series.
Holly ‘on edge’
At the same time, insiders say Holly – who has presented Dancing on Ice with Phil since 2006 – is feeling insecure about the future of her role on that show.
“Seeing Alison’s meteoric rise has put her a bit on edge – she’s not sure what the future is going to hold,” an insider told Closer
“Holly has been really emotional around her colleagues because she knows this could possibly be her last series of DOI. Everyone knows just how ruthless the TV world can be, and has been wondering whether she can really balance everything that’s on her plate right now.
“Now Alison seems to be heading up to the next level, Holly is split – she does love being part of shows like DOI and she really enjoyed her time on things like Freeze The Fear and Celebrity Juice – but she’d love for her brand to go up another level with some more serious, worthy projects. It’s leaving her feeling a bit insecure.”
While Holly is upping her brand identity with her lucrative Wylde Moon lifestyle range, Alison has also branched out into business, with a sell-out range of plus size clothing with In The Style, launched last year.
Holly – who has three children, Harry, 13, Belle, 11 and Chester, eight, with husband Dan – has previously refused to sign the proposed golden handcuffs deal with ITV, who pay her a reported £730,000 a year already.
Now they are keen to lock Alison – who is dating gardener Ben Hawkins and is mum to 16-year-old Aiden – into a lucrative contract to prevent her taking her increasingly popular brand elsewhere.
The idea of a binding contract could also be welcomed by Alison, who is thought to be worried about a potential rating disaster with the return of Big Brother, which has already been pushed back from March to Autumn this year.
She is also keen to keep her slot at This Morning, and is reportedly worried her rising star will annoy pal Holly.
But with her bubbly personality and infectious laugh, it seems Alison’s hard work is really paying off.