Prue Leith heaps praise on Alison Hammond ahead of presenter’s highly anticipated Bake Off debut

Prue Leith said Alison Hammond has ‘energised’ the show  (Getty)
Prue Leith said Alison Hammond has ‘energised’ the show (Getty)

The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith has heaped praise on incoming host Alison Hammond, branding her a “life-enhancing ball of fire”.

The 48-year-old announced in March that she would be taking over from Matt Lucas, who departed after three series in 2022, and joining co-host Noel Fielding in the white tent for its 14th season.

Ahead of the new series, Prue, 83, said that This Morning presenter Alison has “energised the show” and added that the 12 budding bakers “adored her”.

The South African restaurateur said: “She’s energised the show... it’s amazing. 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.

“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,” Prue told PA.

Hammond, who appeared on Celebrity Bake Off in 2020, also recalled the rigorous audition process she had to undergo to land the coveted presenting role.

She told the media outlet: “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 quipped.

“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.”

The show’s stars’ comments come as the Great British Bake Off announced the line-up for this year’s instalment, with the show’s first ever deaf baker taking part.

Twelve bakers, including an intelligence analyst and vegetable grower,  were announced on Tuesday (September 19) ahead of the return of the baking contest to Channel 4 next week.

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