Prue Leith shares her verdict on Alison Hammond’s highly anticipated Bake Off debut

The Great British Bake Off is soon to return for its 14th season with 12 budding new bakers and a new host.

Alison Hammond, known for her unique, affable presenting style on ITV’s This Morning, joins Noel Fielding as a host this year.

She replaces Little Britain star Matt Lucas who departed the show after three series in 2022.

It appears that Hammond, 48, has quickly won the affection of Bake Off judge Prue Leith, who called her a “life-enhancing ball of fire” in a new interview.

“She’s energised the show... it’s amazing,” says Leith, 83, told the Press Association of Hammond.]

“I mean, she’s such a life-enhancing ball of fire, she’s fantastic.

“She says anything – she has almost no filter – she hugs all the bakers. And she is always the same on set, off set, when she’s in the make-up chair... she’s just herself.

Prue Leith (left) and Alison Hammond (Getty Images)
Prue Leith (left) and Alison Hammond (Getty Images)

“She can’t be anything else, but the loud happy Brummie who loves people. She’s just hilarious, but also so sympathetic and sweet. The bakers all adore her and, I must say, so do we.”

Prior to her casting, Hammond appeared on Celebrity Bake Off in 2020 where she impressed Leith with her brownies.

“I took home her brownie recipe – she scribbled it on a postcard and it sat on my fridge door for a long time,” the judge told PA.

“I’ve made the recipe two or three times now. It’s a classic brownie, but it has Daim bars in it, so it’s a bit crunchy. It’s so good.”

Meanwhile, Hammond told the news agency that she was “really chuffed” to find out she’d landed the hosting gig opposite Fielding.

“I actually didn’t realise how much I wanted it until I had to audition with Noel, I had to do a screen test with Noel, and I also had to go and do some interviews with some random general public. And then they took absolutely ages to tell me that I’d got the job.”

“I think because I’d worked for it, and I’d done the audition, I actually felt like I earned it. So it was lovely when they actually came in with the call and said: ‘No-one else would do it, so we’re gonna go with you!’,” she joked.

“No, I’m only joking. But it was lovely. It was a lovely feeling, I was really chuffed. And my son was really excited as well, because he loves Bake Off.

Hammond announced the news in March of this year. Her appointment marks the first time in Bake Off’s 14-year history that there has been a non-white presenter of the main show.

Lucas announced his departure in December, telling fans that it had “become clear” that he was no longer able to work on the show.

The Great British Bake Off returns to Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesday, September 26.