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Holly Willoughby

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Holly Willoughby
Willoughby in 2013
Born
Holly Marie Willoughby

(1981-02-10) 10 February 1981 (age 43)
Education
Occupations
  • Television presenter
  • author
  • model
Years active2000–present
Employer(s)ITV
BBC
Spouse
Dan Baldwin
(m. 2007)
Children3
Websiteofficialhollywilloughby.com

Holly Marie Willoughby (/ˈwɪləbi/ WIL-ə-bee; born 10 February 1981)[1][2] is a British television presenter, author and model. She has presented various television shows for ITV, including This Morning (2009–2023) and Dancing on Ice (2006–2011, 2018–present). Willoughby is also a brand ambassador for Marks & Spencer and Garnier.

From 2008 to 2020, Willoughby was a team captain on the ITV2 comedy panel show Celebrity Juice. Her other television work includes The Xtra Factor (2008–2009), Text Santa (2011–2013, 2015), The Voice UK (2012–2013), Surprise Surprise (2012–2015), Play to the Whistle (2015–2017), I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! (2018), Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof (2022), and The Games (2022).

Willoughby presented This Morning with Phillip Schofield in September 2009 until his departure in May 2023, replacing Fern Britton. She presented the programme from Monday to Thursday mornings until her departure in October 2023. Alongside This Morning, Willoughby and Schofield also presented Dancing on Ice.

Early life

Willoughby was born in Brighton, East Sussex,[3] the younger of two daughters of Brian Willoughby, a sales manager of a double-glazing company, and Linda Willoughby (née Fleming), a former air stewardess.[4] She was educated at the independent Burgess Hill Girls in the town of Burgess Hill in West Sussex, and The College of Richard Collyer in Horsham.[3]

In 1995, at the age of 14, Willoughby was spotted by talent scouts at The Clothes Show Live exhibition and signed with the model agency, Storm Management.[5] She appeared in teen magazines for girls such as Mizz, Just Seventeen, Shout, and More!.[citation needed] From 1998, at the age of 17, Willoughby started modelling bras, underwear and tights for clients including Pretty Polly, appearing in advertisements and posters.[citation needed]

Career

2000–2005: Children's presenting

In 2000, Willoughby won an audition for a show on CITV featuring S Club 7 called S Club TV.[6] In this show actors represented an alternative S Club.[7] She also appeared in a show called S Club 7: Artistic Differences playing a character called Zoe with the regular members of the band. Willoughby worked as a receptionist for a while and then as a runner for the defunct shopping channel Auction World TV.[citation needed]

Willoughby also took on menial jobs and started an Open University course in psychotherapy. Then eventually, she found work as assistant manager during which time she persuaded a friend to make a showreel of her. This secured her an agent who then contacted the BBC.[6] Later in 2002, Willoughby presented a factual entertainment programme for children called Xchange and went on to host several other children's shows for CBBC: X-perimental and CBBC at the Fame Academy (CBBC's version of the BBC talent show Fame Academy).

Willoughby's first role as a children's entertainer came when she rejoined CITV in 2004 to co-present the entertainment show Ministry of Mayhem which aired on Saturday mornings. The programme competed against CBBC's Dick & Dom in da Bungalow.[8] On this programme she met her future husband Dan Baldwin, one of the show's producers. In 2006, the show's title was changed to Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown in order to reflect the popularity of its co-presenters, Willoughby and Stephen Mulhern.[9]

In 2005, Willoughby presented Feel the Fear, a children's entertainment programme in which the presenters are set unnerving challenges. She has also had a number of minor appearances on other children's programmes. Willoughby presented CD:UK for a short while in the spring of 2005, replacing Cat Deeley before Myleene Klass, Lauren Laverne and Johny Pitts became the regular presenters. In recognition of work as a children's television presenter, Willoughby won a BAFTA Children's Award in 2006.[10]

2006–2008

Willoughby at the premiere of Happy Feet in 2006

In 2006, she was chosen to co-present, with Phillip Schofield, the television show Dancing on Ice,[11] in which celebrities are partnered with professional dancers to learn ice-dancing routines which are judged by a panel of experts and voted on by audiences. Willoughby remained in the role until 2011 due to new commitments. She was replaced by Christine Lampard.[12][13]

Willoughby has presented a number of other ITV programmes, including spin-off shows such as Celebrity Wrestling: Bring It On in 2005, Greased Lightnin' in 2007, and The Xtra Factor for two years in 2008 and 2009.

In 2007, she took over from Davina McCall as the presenter of Streetmate, a dating game show during its transition from Channel 4 to ITV2. Willoughby hosted the show for its final series. In the same year, Willoughby co-presented Holly & Fearne Go Dating with Fearne Cotton. The show saw the two hosts attempt to find dates for single people that they meet around the UK.

Since 2008, Willoughby appeared as a team captain on Celebrity Juice, presenting series 1–11 and 13–23 (taking a break in series 12 due to maternity leave).[14] She left the show after 12 years in May 2020.[15]

2009–present

Willoughby on the set of This Morning in 2013, a programme she co-presented between 2009 and 2023

Willoughby began co-presenting ITV's This Morning with Schofield in September 2009 until his departure in May 2023, replacing Fern Britton.[16] Willoughby presented the programme from Monday to Thursday mornings until her departure in October 2023. She and Schofield had a close friendship, with Schofield describing her[when?] as "the sister he never had",[citation needed] and they presented the programme together from Monday to Thursday mornings until Schofield's departure in May 2023 and Willoughby's departure four months later in October 2023.

In 2011, Willoughby co-presented charity telethon Text Santa with Ant & Dec. She returned to co-host the show with Schofield in 2012, 2013 and 2015.[17] On 24 March 2012, Willoughby began presenting The Voice UK with Reggie Yates. She decided to leave the show after the second series and was replaced by Emma Willis in 2014.[18] In 2012, Willoughby began hosting a revived version of Surprise Surprise.[19] A second series began airing on 15 September 2013, a third on 22 October 2014 and a fourth on 21 June 2015. In 2015, Willoughby presented the sports-based panel show Play to the Whistle on ITV. The first series aired for seven episodes beginning on 11 April 2015. A second series aired for six episodes, beginning in April 2016[20] and a third series aired in 2017.[21]

In 2016, Willoughby presented primetime Saturday night dating show Meet the Parents for ITV. The show has been compared to Blind Date.[22] In August 2018, it was announced that Willoughby would host the eighteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! alongside Declan Donnelly as his usual partner Anthony McPartlin took a year-long break.[23]

Willoughby has written a series of children's books with her sister Kelly. Their debut book School for Stars: First Term at L'Etoile became the UK's highest-selling children's book of 2013.[24]

In August 2017, it was reported Willoughby had received a £200,000 pay rise to match the salary of Schofield.[25] She returned to present the new series of Dancing on Ice with Schofield in January 2018.[26] Willoughby is a brand ambassador for Marks & Spencer and Garnier,[27][28] and a former ambassador for Diet Coke in the UK.[29][30] In September 2021, Willoughby founded a wellness and lifestyle brand and company called Wylde Moon.[31]

In 2018, Willoughby and Schofield made a cameo appearance on Coronation Street, when they interviewed Rosie Webster, Craig Tinker and Gemma Winter on This Morning.[citation needed]

On 10 October 2023, Willoughby presented This Morning for the last time, after more than 14 years in the role.[32]

In 2025, Willoughby will present the upcoming Netflix reality competition series Bear Hunt, starring Bear Grylls.[33]

Boris Johnson selfie

In December 2019, during the 2019 general election, Willoughby and Schofield were criticised by some viewers for a "giggly" interview with then prime minister Boris Johnson. The co-hosts' decision to take a selfie with Johnson was also criticised.[citation needed] Some viewers argued that the pair had been more critical when interviewing Jeremy Corbyn, who faced repeated calls to apologise for accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party.[34]

Energy bills "spin to win" complaints

On 5 September 2022, This Morning included a new prize of "energy bills" in their regular "spin to win" game. The prize equated to four months of payments, up to £400 each month. Schofield asked the first qualifying contestant if they were "worried" about energy bills and the contestant replied that "it's absolutely murder" having a prepayment meter.[35] Coverage from Sky News asked "Is Russia using Phillip Schofield for propaganda?" after the game was reported on Russian state television.[36]

Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy tweeted criticism of the prize.[37] Ofcom received 170 complaints about the segment. Ofcom's broadcasting code states that: "We would strongly advise broadcasters not to present a monetary prize as a possible resolution of financial difficulty."[36] On 7 September 2022, the prize was removed without comment from ITV.[citation needed]

The lying-in-state of Elizabeth II

Amid the death and state funeral of Elizabeth II on 17 September 2022, Willoughby and Schofield drew criticism on social media for not joining the queue for the lying-in-state of the queen with the public, when filming in Westminster Hall. ITV said that Schofield and Willoughby were escorted from the press gallery by government staff and did not file past the Queen's coffin. Some social media users contrasted this with the actions of figures including David Beckham and Susanna Reid, who queued for many hours with members of the general public.[38]

Response to Schofield affair

Willoughby said in response to Schofield's departure from This Morning: "It's been over 13 great years presenting This Morning with Phil and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his knowledge, his experience and his humour. The sofa won't feel the same without him." A broadcasting executive subsequently told The Times that Willoughby had given ITV an ultimatum that either she or Schofield had to leave the programme.[39] In a statement to the Daily Mail on 26 May, Schofield admitted that, before leaving his wife in 2020, he had carried on an extramarital affair with a younger male ITV co-worker.[40][41]

Willoughby, who had previously said she was hurt that Schofield had lied to her when she asked about the rumours,[42] returned to This Morning on 5 June for the first time since his departure.[43] Stating that she felt "shaken, troubled and let down," she said that everyone at the programme had given "love and support to someone who was not telling the truth."[44] She expressed concern for Schofield's mental health, thanked viewers for their kindness and support, and said "what unites us all now is a desire to heal."[45]

Personal life

Willoughby is dyslexic.[46]

Her sister, Kelly, also works in the television industry.[47]

On 4 August 2007, Willoughby married Dan Baldwin, co-founder of Hungry Bear Media and a former producer on Ministry of Mayhem and later executive producer on Celebrity Juice. They live in London and have two sons and a daughter.[48]

In 2008, Willoughby became a patron of the charity Together for Short Lives.[49]

Murder plot

On 4 October 2023, Gavin Plumb of Harlow was arrested for solicitation and incitement over an alleged plot to abduct and murder Willoughby.[50] He was accused of contacting another man in the United States who happened to be an undercover law enforcement officer and asking him to come to the UK for the purpose of killing Willoughby.[51] He is reported to have told the officer that he had "assembled a kidnap and restraint kit capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of the kidnap of Holly Willoughby".[51][52] Willoughby was made aware of the plot on 5 October and was taken into protective custody, with Alison Hammond filling in Willoughby's role on This Morning.[53]

Plumb appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on 6 October, where he was remanded into custody on charges of soliciting to commit murder and incitement to kidnap, rape, and murder.[54] The trial began in June 2024.[55] On 4 July 2024, Plumb was found guilty of soliciting murder, encouraging or assisting the commission of kidnap, and encouraging or assisting the commission of rape. Plumb had previously served prison time for attempted kidnap and false imprisonment.[56] On 12 July, Plumb was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 16 years before he becomes eligible for parole.[57]

Willoughby waived the right to anonymity guaranteed to alleged victims in sexual crime cases.[58] She did not attend any of the court proceedings. Her victim impact statement was not released to the public but was mentioned by the prosecution as showing "catastrophic" consequences.[59]

Filmography

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2000 S Club 7: Artistic Differences Zoe TV special
2002 Xchange Presenter
2002–2003 CBBC at the Fame Academy
2003 X-perimental
2004 Junior Eurovision Song Contest: The British Final
GameStars TV special
2004–2006 Ministry of Mayhem / Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown Co-presenter With Stephen Mulhern
2005 CD:UK Presenter
Feel the Fear
Celebrity Wrestling: Bring It On
2006 Lip Service
Showbiz Darts Contestant 3 episodes
2006–2011, 2018–present Dancing on Ice Co-presenter
2006–2021 Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Herself / Guest presenter 10 episodes
2007 The Westlife Show: Live Presenter TV special
Greased Lightnin'
Streetmate 1 series
Holly & Fearne Go Dating Herself Co-star with Fearne Cotton
All Star Family Fortunes 1 episode
2007–2022 Loose Women Guest panellist 17 episodes
2008 Here Come the Boys Presenter
2008–2009 The Xtra Factor
2008–2020 Celebrity Juice Panellist Team captain; series 1–23
2009 Cheryl Cole's Night In Presenter TV special
Piers Morgan's Life Stories Herself 1 episode
2009–2023 This Morning Co-presenter
2010 The Pale Horse Goody Carne Cameo
All Star Mr & Mrs Herself 1 episode
2011 CBeebies Bedtime Stories Storyteller 4 episodes
2011–2013, 2015 Text Santa Co-presenter
2012–2013 The Voice UK With Reggie Yates
2012–2015 Surprise Surprise Presenter 4 series
2012–2021 The One Show Guest presenter 4 episodes
2013 Walk on the Wild Side Series 3, episode 2
Through the Keyhole Herself 1 episode
2014 Duck Quacks Don't Echo Panellist 2 episodes
2015–2017 Play to the Whistle Presenter 3 series
2016 Meet the Parents
2016, 2019 Lorraine Guest presenter 2 episodes
2018 Coronation Street Herself Cameo with Phillip Schofield
I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! Co-presenter With Dec Donnelly
2019–2021 Take Off with Bradley & Holly With Bradley Walsh
2020 Michael McIntyre's The Wheel Contestant Christmas special[60]
2021 The Masked Dancer Guest judge Season 1, Episode 7: "Final"
Midsomer Murders Herself Cameo; Season 22, Episode 6
Ted Lasso Season 2, Episode 2
2022 Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof Co-presenter With Lee Mack
The Games With Freddie Flintoff[61]
Munya and Filly Get Chilly Herself 6 episodes
This England 1 episode
Would I Lie to You?
2025 Bear Hunt Presenter Upcoming series

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2012 Keith Lemon: The Film Herself Cameo

Bibliography

  • The Best Friends' Guide to Life (with Fearne Cotton, Vermilion, 2010) ISBN 9780091935405
  • Truly Happy Baby (June 2016) ISBN 9780008172527
  • Truly Scrumptious Baby (September 2017) ISBN 9780008172565
  • Reflections (October 2021) ISBN 978-1529135718

School for Stars series

All books written with Kelly Willoughby

References

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  6. ^ a b Bio Archived 12 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine Holly Willoughby
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