Big Brother host AJ Odudu reacts to being ‘mother’ to the gay community: ‘I am honoured!’

TV presenter AJ Odudu against a rainbow coloured background.

From Big Brother’s Bit on the Side co-host in 2013 to Big Brother reboot host in 2023, AJ Odudu’s career is on a seemingly endless upward trajectory. 

The gays of the internet have noticed, and they are stanning. As one of many tweets put it: “AJ Odudu is so mother.”

“Oh my god, please tell me why I am being referred to as mother,” Odudu, 35, asks PinkNews. “Let me just throw in a guess. Is it because of my newly appointed role on Big Brother, and Davina [McCall] became ‘Big Mother’ because she was pregnant a lot?”

Not quite, no, though Davina ‘fancy another one?’ McCall is also mother. I explain to her that she has joined ranks of celebrity women who have been dubbed as “mother” of the LGBTQ+ community; a list of icons who are committed to serving camp, dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, or simply hold a special place in the hearts of queer pop culture consumers.

Think Jennifer Coolidge, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Alison Hammond.

“I am in there? With Alison Hammond? Wow, I am honoured. I really am. Wow. Thanks for sharing that piece of information with me today,” she says, sounding genuinely thrilled.

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“To have any fanbase, little old me from Blackburn, I am always shocked and in awe. I am here for it. I think I read in an article yesterday, someone said: ‘We are just loving what AJ is doing, because she is so camp.’ And I was like, am I? Great!”

Mother Odudu is camp. On her latest Channel 4 gig, The Greatest Auction, the TV presenter brings collectors and dealers together to flog and buy their varied treasures, including a taxidermy unicorn, an old fairground ride, and a lock of Marilyn Monroe’s hair. Yet when someone brings in an alleged, entirely unauthenticated piece of Banksy’s art in episode one, with a price tag of £100,000, Odudu appears baffled as she hilariously refers to it as “a bit of concrete”.

“Sometimes I would laugh them out of the room and then sometimes,  which you’ll see later in the series, their reaction would be like, ‘No, seriously,’ and I’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re not joking. OK, cool.'”

The Greatest Auction isn’t an ordinary, dry auction show à la Bargain Hunt or Homes Under The Hammer. This is the “coolest, funnest, and most interesting” auction show, AJ Odudu says. 

One of the most exotic pieces up for sale? A pinball machine belonging to none other than gay music legend, Elton John.

​​”This guy had gone to an auction for something else completely different, and then casually walked out with Elton John’s pinball machine,” Adudu explains. “But Elton John was there [at the auction], and signed the pinball machine! So not only is it Elton John’s pinball machine, it’s signed by Sir Elton John himself.

“Why don’t I have space for Elton John’s pinball machine,” she wonders briefly. “I need a shed or something!”

It’s an interesting twist on the standard auction show, the idea that ordinary people have extraordinary, Hollywood valuables stashed in their cupboards (“It makes me want to root through my own bins!,” AJ Odudu laughs). What could make it even more fun is a celebrity version, where famous faces come and try and sell off their most prized possessions. If that were to happen, what would she want to put on the auction table?

“A very good friend of mine, Joe Lycett, when I was hosting [Channel 4’s] The Big Breakfast last year, he made me a sculpture of his head,” she says.

Joe Lycett wears a white and yellow t-shirt while stood against a light blue background and laughing.
Joe Lycett. (Getty/Comic Relief)

“Joe Lycett sells his artwork. Joe Lycett, comedian, friend, but also now a certified artist, he sells his work. I have got this one of one sculpture made by Joe Lycett, authenticated by Joe Lycett, given to me on-screen so we’ve got video evidence that it was owned by the one and only Joe Lycett.

“That is the item that I would sell. And I would hope and pray that it went for loads of money,” she laughs again.

“I need to do what the guy did with Sir Elton John’s pinball machine. I need to discreetly get Joe Lycett to sign the back of his own head. Then, that’ll be really it.”

The Greatest Auction airs Tuesdays on Channel 4 from 8pm.