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.