Alison Hammond has admitted that she’s become less “tactile” with interview subjects in recent years in line with modern discussions around consent and personal space.
The popular This Morning host has earned an army of fans for her friendly presenting style and willingness to laugh with her guests, no matter their level of fame.
In a new interview ahead of her debut as the co-host of The Great British Bake Off, Hammond said that her new gig on the cookery competition had allowed her to go “back to basics”.
“I started off interviewing people on This Morning,” she told The Daily Mail. “Fundamentally, it’s being interested in somebody else. I do come across as loud and brash, but I also listen to what people have to say.”
Hammond, 48, added that, while she’s “always been quite tactile”, she’s learnt to “scale it back” in recent years. These comments correspond with contemporary debates about touching and personal space, with many suggesting people should always ask before touching another person.
“I don’t jump on celebrities any more and kiss them, we’re in a different age,” Hammond said. “I just like a cuddle.”
Hammond takes over from Matt Lucas, who presented the show for three series from 2010. She will be joined by The Mighty Boosh star and comedian Noel Fielding, who has hosted since the show moved to Channel 4 in 2017.
In addition to a new co-host, this year’s series of Bake Off will also feature a change to the format.
Episodes themed around different national dishes have been scrapped, following backlash in previous years to “Japan Week” in 2020, “German Week” in 2021 and “Mexican Week” in 2022. During these weeks, some viewers accused the presenters, judges and contestants of “casual racism” and playing into stereotypes.
Executive producer Kieran Smith said in a recent interview that he would “hold my hands up” to criticism over the national-themed weeks.
“We didn’t want to offend anyone but the world has changed and the joke fell flat,” he said, adding: “We’re not doing any national themes this year.”
The change prompted criticism from celebrity chef Anthony Worrall Thompson, who called it a “woke” decision and “utter nonsense”.
“I can’t believe the small minority who don’t like these programmes don’t have an on-off button on their televisions, and they can’t just turn it off. The majority of people enjoy the programme,” Thompson said on GB News.
“As far as this programme is concerned, it’s so pathetic that the minority have such loud voices.”
The Great British Bake Off returns in September on Channel 4.