Hannah Waddingham’s proud father has told of his delight at the British star’s status as a national treasure that will see her star with Tom Cruise in the new Mission Impossible movie.
The 48-year-old has rocketed to public prominence via a part in hit show Ted Lasso and won a new legion of fans when she hosted Eurovision.
But while her late career blossoming has come from nowhere for most, her family have always expected it.
In an exclusive interview with MailOnline her father Harry revealed: ‘We are not surprised at all by the adulation that Hannah is receiving and that she is now being described as a national treasure.’
Hannah, 48, left audiences swooning with her witty banter, dancing skills and camera presence as one of the co-hosts of Eurovision, which aired on Saturday night to a global audience of 160 million.
Hannah Waddingham, 48, rocketed to public prominence via a part in hit show Ted Lasso and won a new legion of fans when she hosted Eurovision
Her proud father Harry (pictured with Hannah and her mother Melodie) has told of his delight at the British star’s status as a national treasure that will see her star with Tom Cruise in the new Mission Impossible movie
The 5ft 11in Ted Lasso star has been hailed as the ‘real winner’ of the show and a new national icon, outshining co-hosts Alesha Dixon, Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina and the BBC’s Graham Norton.
And speaking to MailOnline, Hannah’s father Harry Waddingham insisted that his daughter’s emergence as an A-lister in her 40s has been in the pipeline since she was aged just four, when she declared that she wanted to be an actress and has not caught them off guard.
Mr Waddingham, 82 gushed: ‘My wife Melodie and I are both immensely proud parents.
‘Our daughter has worked very hard all her life for this.
‘It’s wonderful to see that she’s getting the recognition she deserves from the British public.
‘Hannah is an outstanding actor, has a wonderful voice and is also a great dancer. She’s also very charming and humorous and that really came across on television. It’s difficult for us to put into words how proud we are of her.’
Mr Waddingham revealed that he had not seen Hannah for several months because prior to presenting Eurovision she was filming with Tom Cruise for the next Mission Impossible film – Dead Reckoning Part Two – which is set for release in June 2024.
He beamed: ‘She’s been very busy acting with Tom Cruise and as you can imagine, I’m very excited about that. It’s very big and will give Hannah even more exposure. Tom Cruise is a huge name and I spoke to her about the film but really, I was more interested in him. It’s not every day that your daughter gets to rub shoulders with somebody so famous.
Mr Waddingham revealed that he had not seen Hannah for several months because prior to presenting Eurovision she was filming with Tom Cruise for the next Mission Impossible film
‘She said he’s a very nice, down to earth man and that it was a great experience being in a film with him. I can totally understand why the British public now think of Hannah as a national treasure, but I promise you, she’s very focused and dedicated to her work and there’s more to come from her.’
Mr Waddingham revealed that he and Melodie, 80 watched Eurovision from the family home in South West London where Hannah was raised along with her older brother, who is not in showbiz.
He said: ‘We were not nervous at all. We knew Hannah would do a great job and win over the public. She has outstanding talent and that really showed.
‘We knew about three months ago that Hannah had landed the role of co-presenter and to be honest, she was more nervous about it than us. When we sat down to watch, we had no nerves at all because there was never any doubt in our minds that she would nail it.’
Incredibly, Hannah only performed her first high profile presenting role last month when she hosted the Olivier Awards.
Hannah attended private girls’ school Streatham and Clapham High School before going on to study at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. After her education, she landed a number of roles in the West End.
After some TV roles, including in ITV comedy Benidorm, she got her first big break on the small screen in the US after being cast as Septa Unella, better known as the Shame Nun in Game of Thrones, joining in season five.
Mr Waddingham revealed that he and Melodie, 80, watched Eurovision from the family home in South West London where Hannah was raised along with her older brother, who is not in showbiz
Hannah has previously spoken about the difficulties of balancing her career with motherhood. She has a daughter Kitty, eight, from a previous relationship with Italian hotelier Gianluca Cugnetto.
When her daughter was three, she fell seriously ill with a rare autoimmune disease – known as Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) – and Hannah had to dash home quickly from where she was filming in Belfast.
After finally getting to see Kitty the following day, Hannah told her agents she no longer wanted acting jobs that would require her to travel.
Within two months she landed a leading role of Richmond FC owner Rebecca Welton, who hires hapless US coach Ted Lasso because she wants the team to fail to spite her former husband. The hit comedy show is filmed only 40 minutes from the home she shares with her daughter in Surrey.
Mr Waddingham said: ‘Despite her career, Hannah’s first priority is being a mother and she’s a very good and dedicated hands-on mum. Her daughter comes first, as it should be.
‘She’s turned down a lot of good roles in the past so that she can be close to Kitty. But that’s eased off a bit as she (Kitty) has got older.’
Hannah’s mother Melodie is a former singer with the English National Opera who has performed at some of the biggest opera venues in the world.
Mr Waddingham recalled: ‘As a child Hannah would sit in rehearsals at the English National Opera watching her mother and has been inspired by her. There was never any question what Hannah wanted to do in her life.
‘She was aged four when she told us that she wanted to be an actor, that was her dream. It’s all she’s ever wanted. But she always said that she didn’t to be an overnight success, that she wanted a career that was going to last and last.’
He insisted that Hannah has inherited her musical skills from her mother and has a four-octave vocal range.
Mr Waddingham said: ‘Despite her career, Hannah’s first priority is being a mother and she’s a very good and dedicated hands-on mum. Her daughter comes first, as it should be
He said: ‘Hannah has an outstanding voice and is a great performer of all kinds of music. She doesn’t have a favourite song, she can do all kinds of stuff from opera to pop and enjoys doing an incredibly widespread.’
Mr Waddingham is a retired marketing director who in his younger years was a model.
He joked: ‘Hannah got her musical skills from her mother, but she’s got her good looks and stage presence from me.’
Mr Waddingham and Melodie married 53 years ago and met after she performed at a dinner he was attending in the West End.
The couple have been huge supporters of Hannah’s career with Mr Waddingham revealing that they sit down each week to watch Ted Lasso. The show has earned her two Supporting Actress Emmy wins, plus a number of other awards and she also has three Olivier nominations to her name for her theatre work.
Mr Waddingham said: ‘It’s a fantastic show and Hannah is great in it. We have seen her go from being in theatre five to six times per week, where you really have to be on the button to being on big TV shows and it’s marvellous. They require different skills, but Hannah has shown that she has the ability to do it.’
Recalling Hannah’s childhood, he said that one of his favourite memories is when she was aged 14 and played Lord Macduff in Macbeth.
He said: ‘There was a moment in the play when Macduff gets told that his son was killed in battle. Hannah was 14 and her performance was unbelievable, she had the whole place in tears. It was amazing, I’ll never forget it.’
In addition to her acting and singing skills, Hannah is also a talented linguist who is fluent in French and Italian, the former proving useful during Eurovision.
Mr Waddingham revealed that since the show, he has not had time to see or speak to Hannah, who only returned to her home on Sunday but that he has sent her two congratulatory emails.
He said that the family planned to celebrate her rise to national prominence with a get together, once she is able to find some time in her busy schedule.
Mr Waddingham said: ‘I’m waiting for her to have some downtime and we’ll open a bottle of something that fizzes to celebrate.’