Holly Willoughby: ‘I love Cilla!’

Surprise Surprise‘s new host Holly Willoughby talks to TV Times magazine about bringing an iconic show back…

How do you feel about stepping into Cilla Black’s shoes and hosting a revamped version of the feelgood show?

“It’s wonderful and scary at the same time. Scary because it was a show that was part of my childhood and there’s a certain amount of responsibility that comes with that. I’m fully aware that now it’s been brought back there’s going to be a new generation of kids who have never seen it before and I want them to enjoy it as much as I did.”

Has the show been tweaked at all in line with new technology that’s available?

“Not really, the essence and heart of it is exactly the same. I think people would be disappointed if we messed about with it too much.”

Has social networking not done the job of Surprise Surprise?

“We still have reunions. I remember everyone saying to me, ‘Do people really not meet up for so long now we’ve got Skype?’ But what we’ve learnt is that if you’ve lost somebody, you’ve really lost them because even social networking hasn’t got them back together, which makes the end result even more powerful. There are also different twists on reunions, maybe with an item that someone’s lost.”

You’re filming in the same ITV Studios as the original show was filmed! And we hear that you’re even using the same dressing room that Cilla did all those years ago…

“That was a little emotional for me because I hadn’t realised until one of the producers told me. It felt really special. I haven’t spoken to Cilla since I started filming. But I do know her, we did Never Mind The Buzzcocks together [in December 2011].”

Have you always been a fan of hers?

“I absolutely love her. As a girl starting out in TV and watching her when I was younger, she really is just an icon and a real idol of mine. I did Buzzcocks especially because she was hosting it. I just wanted to meet her and afterwards in the green room I had a glass of champagne with her – I was like: ‘This is the best thing that’s ever happened!’ She was on Loose Women recently saying she was pleased Surprise Surprise is coming back, so that’s lovely.”

Cilla famously used to sing the theme tune to the show. Is that something we’ll be seeing you do too?

“I had a little experiment on This Morning and Phil [her co-host Mr Schofield] was like ‘That’s the last time you’re ever allowed to sing that out loud!’ I had that awful combination of having loads of confidence but no ability whatsoever.”

Will you be crying a lot during the show, too?

“Anyone who watches This Morning knows I can’t be anything other than myself in those situations. If I was watching at home, I’d be crying and I still haven’t learnt to separate myself and be professional when I’m on the telly. So there has been a bit of crying.”

If you could, what surprise would you organise for Phillip Schofield?

“He’s got this little obsession with stars, comets and meteorites. So I’d probably arrange to take him to some big telescope somewhere, I don’t know where, I’d have to do my research. But he’d like that – he’s a bit of geek like that when it comes to stars!”

Surprise, Surprise is on Sunday October 21 at 7pm on ITV1

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