Alison Hammond’s pal Vanessa Feltz on her heartbreaking confession

Following Alison Hammond’s breakdown last week, which saw her sobbing over her weight battle, Closer speaks with the This Morning presenter’s close friend Vanessa Feltz

Alison Hammond Vanessa Feltz

by Closer staff |
Published on

On-screen, Alison Hammond is confident, bubbly and never fails to raise a smile but, last week, the This Morning presenter broke down in tears and confessed she struggled to control her urge to eat “all the time”.

Comforted by co-host Dermot O’Leary, Alison, 47, sobbed, “I’ve had obesity all my life. Your regulation system is out of whack. You can’t control wanting to eat all the time. A lot of people don’t realise – obesity is a disease. You can’t help it. I think people look down on people when they’re so big.”

Responding to a viewer who had called in to ask for help over her 17-year-old daughter’s eating disorder, she added, “It’s really difficult. You want all the bad things and you know you don’t look great. Sorry. It really touches me. The NHS need to see it as a disease.”

Alison Hammond crying This Morning
Alison recently broke down in tears on This Morning ©ITV

Alison’s friend and co-star, Vanessa Feltz, says she was “devastated” by Alison’s breakdown. Vanessa, 60, and Alison are both presenters on This Morning and have been friends for nearly two decades since starring on Celebrity Fit Club together in 2004.

The radio presenter tells Closer, “I really feel very lucky to know Alison. She’s hilarious, she’s compassionate and she’s a bundle of energy. She’s always smiling and laughing and she has a very warm heart. Everybody adores her, including me.

“So when I saw her crying I felt devastated for her, but I do know what it’s like. I’m the second most famous fat person after [actress] Dawn French, and it isn’t pleasant.

“It’s a life-long struggle and some people are very unsympathetic. Alison and I do talk about it. We’ve both been in a similar situation and we both know it’s very difficult. I’m glad she felt able to share that part of herself, but my heart was bleeding for her.”

Alison Hammond obesity This Morning
Alison weighed 20st at her heaviest ©Getty

Alison, who rose to fame when she entered the Big Brother house in 2002, has always been open about struggling with her weight and revealed how, at her heaviest, she weighed 20st and wore a dress size 28.

The mum-of-one has previously admitted that a “horrible” incident during a 2007 interview with Matt Damon – during which she broke the interview chair and had to be helped out of it by the Hollywood actor – had left her feeling so “mortified” that she had resolved to have gastric band surgery. “[I] didn’t want to be fat any more,” she said.

But after losing around a stone, Alison described the surgery as “torture” when her body rejected the band (fitted to the top part of your stomach to limit and control the amount of food you can eat) and the scar tissue around the band grew so thickly that she was barely able to eat – forcing her to have it removed two years later.

CHECK OUT Alison Hammond's funniest This Morning moments


Alison Hammond's funniest This Morning moments slider

alison-hammond-funniest-moments1 of 10

The time she nearly got arrested in Italy

During a stint in Pisa, home to the leaning tower, when she was announcing one of This Morning's mega prize draws, Alison and the crew were intercepted by Italian police for filming without a permit. But despite the firm hand of the law, Alison continued with her piece to camera, and seemed to find the whole thing hilarious. To be fair, so did we.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments2 of 10

The time she photobombed the Oscars

It doesn't get much better than being flown out to LA as the This Morning correspondent for the Oscars, does it? But when the coverage aired the next morning, Phil had stern words for Alison, who brazenly photobombed one of the the official sponsor's red carpet coverage.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments3 of 10

The time she married The Rock

Alison fans will have followed her enduring love affair with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson after they became engaged during an interview. When she next met him during the promo for Jumanji, they tied the knot (100% for real) and were ordained by Dwayne's co-star Kevin Hart, naturally.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments4 of 10

The time she got dumped by The Rock

But as with many celebrity couples' the love affair wasn't to last, and just months later we saw Alison at the height of her heartbreak after she was unceremoniously dumped. She even ripped all his posters off the wall. We did the same, hun.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments5 of 10

The time on the weather map

She may have earned her stripes as a killer celebrity correspondent, but in 2018 Alison was given the opportunity to try her hand at presenting the weather. Speaking from a floating weather map of the UK, hilarity ensued when Alison made the jump from Scotland to Northern Ireland and ended up accidentally pushing a scantily clad weather assistant into the river. We weren't really sure what they were doing there in the first place tbh.

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The time she made Hugh Jackman's childhood dream come true

Alison has made plenty of famous friends during her career, but it's clear she stole Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine's heart when she fulfilled his childhood dream of getting into the official Guinness Book of World Records. She invited along the editor to present his award, and even had a troupe of can-can dancers to help them celebrate.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments7 of 10

Those times in the kitchen

Despite being on our dream dinner party guest list, Alison's not exactly a natural in the kitchen, and there's loads of hilarious footage to prove it. Like the time she dropped her 'pancake cereal' all over the floor within seconds of going live via video link. Or the time she forgot to add eggs to her brownie mixture. Or the time she emptied a colander of water all over her hand. We could go on...

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The time she interviewed a tree

It's not just the A-List Alison's got her claws into, you know. After a 1,000 year old tree in Calderstones Park in Liverpool was named 2020's Tree of the Year (well deserved, if you ask us) Alison was sent along with a tree whisperer to get the oakey oldie's thoughts on the prestigious title. Riveting stuff.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments9 of 10

The time she wasn't a leprechaun whisperer :(

On the subject of whisperers, in 2019 Alison was sent to the Northern Irish border to meet Ireland's last Leprechaun Whisperer, a lovely man called Kevin, who claimed the Leprechauns were concerned about the impeding 'hard Brexit'. But despite Kevin's best efforts, Alison wasn't able to communicate with them herself, which was awkward, but also funny AF.

alison-hammond-funniest-moments10 of 10

The time she got pissed with Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford

Alison isn't much of a drinker, but we can never forget the time an interview with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling ahead of Blade Runner 2049 descended into chaos when all three of them got the giggles so hard they struggled to breathe, let alone answer any questions and the interview went viral worldwide. Top points to Alison.

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Vanessa also had a gastric band fitted in 2010, which left her so ill she would throw up whenever she ate and would at times struggle to drink water but, after advice from professionals, she underwent a gastric bypass in 2019.

Vanessa revealed, “I spent a whole lifetime trying to deal with it [weight gain and losing weight] and in the end I had a gastric bypass because it was exhausting and emotionally draining, and I felt like a big failure because I couldn’t keep it off. Alison is so accomplished, and so good at absolutely everything, and then there’s this one thing that you care about very much, and you just can’t crack it.

“Of all of the addictions, it’s the one that is ridiculed. You’re just told to stop eating the biscuits, but it’s like an override button, that fails to tell you when you’ve had enough.”

In 2017, Alison – who has a 17-year-old son, Aiden – lost 2st after taking part in reality TV show Sugar Free Farm, but after yo-yo dieting, she went on to start the WW diet and became an ambassador for the brand in 2019. However, in 2020 Alison’s doctor diagnosed her as pre- diabetic due to her blood sugar levels.

Alison Hammond
Alison and Vanessa are close pals ©Shutterstock

“Lockdown was dire for me in terms of weight. I’ve never had health issues until then. It scared me because my mum had diabetes and I want to be there for my son. So I decided to do something about it,” she said in October, revealing she has since cut out sugar and now goes for regular walks.

Alison has also spoken about how she sought counselling, and bravely described how her father, who died in 2020, had once threatened her into finishing her Sunday lunch when she was a child.

Remembering how she had told her late mum she was full before finishing her dinner, she said, “My dad looked up. ‘Eat the rest of your dinner,’ he said sternly. His eyes bore into me and then he started taking his belt off.

“My eight-year-old self did a quick calculation: If my dad beat me with his belt, my mum would try to protect me and he would overpower her. To keep the peace, and out of self-preservation, I ate every last bit of my dinner.”

And Vanessa says that, sadly, it’s these devastating emotional attachments to food that often go unnoticed by critics.

“You eat when you’re sad, or stressed or lonely, or bored, and also when you’re happy and celebrating. It’s complicated and emotional. I completely agree with Alison that it should be seen as a disease,” she says.

Closer magazine
Read more in the latest issue of Closer magazine - OUT NOW ©Bauer Media

But despite her father’s abuse, and the years of self-torture and emotional turmoil that continued for Alison, the TV favourite is still an inspiration to fans with her positive body messages.

“I’m beautiful and a lovely person, and I know it. I actually love myself,” she revealed last year.

“I’d love to be a little bit smaller because it helps with my knees and my ankles, but I’m not going to stop enjoying myself or wearing sexy clothes or having sex with men.”

And Vanessa says Alison’s attitude is a “force for good” for women everywhere. She adds, “She’s a beautiful girl. She has wonderful skin and gorgeous eyes. She’s a fantastic force for good and so to see her very distressed is very upsetting. I’m looking forward to seeing her on This Morning very soon, and I wish her nothing but love.”

Read more in the latest issue of Closer magazine – OUT NOW.

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