Michelle Visage and Tom Allen on hosting the red carpet at the BAFTA TV Awards

Michelle Visage and Tom Allen (Images: Attitude)
Michelle Visage and Tom Allen (Images: Attitude)

Michelle Visage and Tom Allen know a thing or two about hosting. The Drag Race legend and the comedy veteran have both hosted the Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar, after all: the former in 2022 and the latter in 2021.

But the genius idea of having them host together? It seems the British Academy of Film and Television Arts have pipped us to the post on that. The duo will be emceeing live from the red carpet of the BAFTA TV Awards in London next month. Which begs the question: what are their favourite TV shows of the last year?

“Well, I’m knee-deep in Baby Reindeer,” says Michelle. “The fact that it’s true, that he wrote, directed and is starring in this, and reliving his own trauma? […] It’s so brave and soul-baring.”

“I really enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” answers Tom, before we eventually work out he actually means The White Lotus, to guffaws from Michelle.

Here, the self-confessed anglophile and the quintessential British gentleman speak to Attitude about why they’re the perfecting presenting duo…

How does it feel to be hosting the BAFTAs together?

Michelle: Horrible.
Tom: Terrifying.

Have you worked together before?

Michelle: No, but we’ve loved each other for many years.
Tom: You were on Extra Slice [after show of The Great British Bake Off] last year. I’ve known her forever. We’ve done some charity events together, [such as for] The Make a Difference Trust.

You were both at the Attitude Awards in 2021, the year it was virtual, so I don’t know if you crossed paths then.

Tom: We’d have been arrested!

How have your experiences of hosting Attitude events informed your preparedness for this one?

Michelle: The Attitude Awards are always the gayest of all gay nights. It’s so fun and celebratory. Everyone is there in love, and that’s what Tom and I bring. We understand each other’s sense of humour and enjoy each other.
Tom: Those Attitude events are always fun; people being their authentic selves. What’s nice it trying to bring that energy to a BAFTA red carpet, because those events can be innately quite formal. I think people like it if you’re just yourself and have a laugh.

How do you complement each other as hosts?

Michelle: I’m funny, loud, boisterous and love to laugh. Tom’s dryness makes me laugh. He gets timing, cadence, and you can throw anything at him, and he’s game. That’s what you need in a perfect co-host.
Tom: That’s very flattering. Before I met Michelle, I knew I wanted to be her friend. Michelle’s not only funny – she’s an openminded, beautiful person. It’s a match made in Heaven. I mean the nightclub!
Michelle: My favourite thing about working with Tom is the voice notes to each other. Literally: “Tom – what the fuck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck!” And he’ll voice note back: “Oh dear.” Julie Andrews proper.
Tom: I sounded like Mrs. Doubtfire in that impression!

Are you going to freestyle on the day?

Michelle: Absolutely. 
Tom: On a red carpet, you’ve got these people walking towards you all the time. It’s like a zombie apocalypse but with celebs.
Michelle: Yes.

Do you have rituals to switch into presenting mode?

Michelle: I have no rituals. I’m like, you’ve got to do what you came here to do.
Tom: That’s what she says to me.
Michelle: When you get there, you get so swept up in the moment, and the glamour and the showbusiness of it… Tom’s the same way: first and foremost, we’re fans of these performers. When we see them, we get excited. When that excitement is palpable and comes through, instead of playing cool… 
Tom: I agree. Not overthinking is the only ritual. Getting in our heads can be the worst thing. We just want to be spontaneous and in the moment.

When was the last time you witnessed homophobia or heterosexism in the worlds of TV?

Michelle: It’s omnipresent. It’ll always be a hetero-driven business. But at end of the day, with the doors still opening, we need to have more trans representation, more bi representation. More representation around the whole rainbow. But the good news is we’ve come a long way, baby.
Tom: It’s a thing of making gatekeepers realise that audiences are naturally curious. They want to meet new, interesting, exciting people. It’s frustrating when you go: ‘People would like to see this person!’ Or: ‘The audience would really love this insight!’ Sometimes you do have to persuade people. But in the fullness of it, I think people understand it’s exciting to meet people in our rainbow community.
Michelle: It should be normal. I don’t understand why we’re still having to fight for it. We’ve come a long way but we’ve still so much further to go.

Watch Tom and Michelle host the Red Carpet of the BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises on BAFTA’s YouTube Channel, X and Facebook on Sunday 12 May, and tune in to the ceremony on BBC One, iPlayer and BritBox.

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