Holly Willoughby: ‘I can’t help crying!’

Holly Willoughby returns to our screens for another series of Surprise Surprise this week. We talked to her about taking over from Cilla Black, sneaking downstairs to watch telly as a kid and Peppa Pig!

The show has been going for 30 years now – why do you think it’s so popular?

“I think it has such history and viewers also have such fond memories of watching it the first time round with Cilla – the fact that it ran for so long shows how popular it was, they took it into their hearts. I think even if it was a brand-new format people would take it into their hearts because of the nature of the show. You can’t help but be moved by the stories.”

Did you watch it as a child?

“I did! It was a big part of our weekend. I remember watching it quite vividly because it aired on a Saturday and we wouldn’t have to sit at the table, we were allowed to eat our dinner off our laps – which was a big treat!”

Do you know if Cilla is a fan of the new series?

“She is – thank goodness! When we did the first series back last year, I was terrified she wouldn’t like it! I’m a huge fan of Cilla anyway, she’s like an icon for me. I didn’t want to ruin her show – and it is her show, it remains her show, I’m just babysitting it. I saw her on a night out and she told me we were doing a brilliant job. I was very relieved!”

Do you find it difficult not to shed a few tears yourself when you’re filming?

“I can’t help it! Maybe people think that I should be supporting them but it’s really hard because if I was watching on the telly, I’d be crying too!”

Which story affected you most in this series?

“We had a man write to us about his mum. Her husband was a policeman whose car rolled during a car chase and he was paralysed from the neck down. They recommended he go in a home but she wasn’t having it. She gave up everything and cared for him for 20 years. Her family were dotted around all over the world; America, Kenya, everywhere. So then we brought them all out and she was in bits.”

Surprise Surprise has enjoyed a brilliant comeback, but if you could bring back any programmes which would they be?

“Ooooh good question! I’d bring back Let’s Pretend which was my favourite show when I was a kid. I’d also bring back Ministry of Mayhem which was a Saturday show I used to do, because I loved it! I loved Game On as well! I was at the age I shouldn’t have been staying up because I had school the next morning but I remember sneaking downstairs to watch it and thinking it was the funniest thing ever!”

Do your kids know about your job? 

“My kids still don’t really understand how I get on the TV. I think they assume that everyone’s mum is on the telly! If I managed to get a role in Peppa Pig then suddenly I’d be the coolest mum in the world!”

Surprise Surprise returns on Sunday September 15 at 7pm on ITV.