Holly Willoughby and Stephen Mulhern's friendship as they join forces for Dancing on Ice

Their reunion is imminent.

Holly Willoughby presented 'Dancing On Ice' with old CITV pal Stephen Mulhern as Phillip Schofield still has COVID. (ITV/Shutterstock)
Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby will co-present the next series of Dancing on Ice. (ITV/Shutterstock)

Holly Willoughby and Stephen Mulhern are officially co-presenting the next series of Dancing on Ice, with the pair already firm friends for years after working in children's TV together.

Willoughby stepped down from her job on This Morning after 14 years after she was at the centre of an alleged kidnap and murder plot – just five months after her longtime co-star Phillip Schofield had resigned after a scandal broke about his affair with a male colleague.

Speculation had been rife about Willoughby's future on Dancing on Ice and when she would return to the showbiz world after her retreat from the limelight. Now after months of speculation and behind-the-scenes meetings, ITV's head of entertainment commissioning Kate Rawcliffe confirmed: "Holly and Stephen are two of our best loved presenters, so reuniting them 20 years after they first appeared on screen together to host Dancing on Ice marks the start of an exciting year for the show."

The 16th series of the reality TV competition premieres Sunday, 14 January on ITV1 and ITVX, with Coronation Street's Ryan Thomas, Emmerdale actress Roxy Shahidi, comedienne Lou Sanders, and boxing champion Ricky Hatton all crossing their fingers not to fall flat on their faces in the ice rink.

First become friends

Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby during Launch of Royal Mail's New Set of
Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby have been mates since the early Noughties. (WireImage)

It's been almost 20 years since they made their first appearance on screen together in 2004 while presenting Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown, which was first known as Ministry of Mayhem. They have both gone onto become legends in the TV circles in their own rights.

The pair worked together on the children's show for two years but their friendship proved it would stand the test of time and the showbiz world and they remain good pals even now. Mulhern and Willoughby have always had high praise for each other and have loved working together over the years, with the former saying it was "so lovely" working with his pal again in 2020.

Confirming he was in talks for the Dancing on Ice gig in October, Mulhern told The Daily Mail: "I used to do the spinoff show Defrosted and when I stood in for Phil when he wasn't too well, he had COVID, I really enjoyed it and it was so lovely being back with Holly. We had a great time together plus lots of the team were the same from when I did the ITV2 show.

"We are talking about it, but I promise you now that nothing is confirmed but if it happens, it will be absolutely amazing... if it doesn't, look, it doesn't. I promise you I would tell you if we had it confirmed at this point. The lineup is the best it has been in a few years... I am keeping across the lineup, just in case... It is a huge staple, and it has been around."

In 2014, Mulhern said he would always turn to Willoughby with a problem. He told The Sun: "Ant and Dec, Emma Willis and Holly Willoughby are proper mates. But that's about it. If I had a problem I'd go to Holly, and if I want advice that makes no sense and probably makes things worse, I'll ask Ant and Dec."

Boozy days on Ministry of Mayhem

Holly Willoughby, Michael Underwood and Stephen Mulhern
Michael Underwood, Holly Willoughby and Stephen Mulhern all presented Ministry of Mayhem. (Alamy)

Willoughby looked back fondly on her partying days with Mulhern and regular Ministry of Mayhem co-star Michael Underwood. Speaking to The Daily Mail in 2019, Willoughby recalled how they used to go out drinking until the early hours.

"There were times when we went straight from the hotel bar to going live on air," she said, referring to herself, Mulhern, and Underwood. "Everyone in children's TV drinks until 5am. If you mess up, no one cares. It got a bit too wild when my breast popped out of my dress.

"It doesn't help when you read the script and you've got to drink anchovies in custard with some eight-year-old. No matter how hard you scrub in the shower, you can't get the smell of custard pie off your skin."

Dancing on Ice

Willoughby's Dancing on Ice future was up in the air after she quit This Morning. (ITV)
Willoughby's Dancing on Ice future was up in the air after she quit This Morning. (ITV)

Back in 2022, Willoughby's Dancing on Ice colleague Phillip Schofield was ruled out of action after testing positive for coronavirus. This allowed Mulhern to step up as a fill-in presenter and he was reunited with Willoughby.

"Can you believe it's 16 years since we worked together on kids TV?," he said amid the ice-skating. "I know! We're grownups now," she exclaimed. And just two years later, it's set to become a permanent partnership.

Dancing on Ice returns to ITV on 14 January.

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