STEPHEN Mulhern revealed that he was “astounded” by the fan reaction after he filled in for Phillip Schofield on the last series of Dancing on Ice.

The TV presenter – who stepped in for Phillip when he tested positive for Covid back in February – confirmed a possible return to hosting the ITV show in the future.

Ian WhittakerStephen Mulhern teased a return to Dancing on Ice in the future[/caption]

The TV favourite said he was overwhelmed by the fans responseRex

ITVStephen revealed the secret behind In For A Penny’s huge success[/caption]

Stephen, 45, said he was chuffed to reunite with best pal Holly Willoughby on-screen for the first time in 16 years.

They have presented a number of children’s TV shows over the years, including Finger Tips and were last seen presenting on Ministry of Mayhem in 2006.

The TV favourite said he was blown away by the positive response from fans who called for him to permanently replace Phillip on the ITV skating programme.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Stephen said: “I was astounded by the reaction from social media because it was overwhelming to be honest.


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“And I tell you what was lovely…it was lovely to work again with Holly [Willoughby].

“We started our careers together on CITV, we did Saturday morning kids TV, Ministry of Mayhem for three years together and it was just lovely.

“We just had a great time and it was just nice to step in. Phil wasn’t feeling too well.

“It was lovely doing live TV as well, it was just exciting.

“So yes, would I go back, the answer is yes.”

Although Stephen would be happy to fill in temporarily when needed, he reassured Phillip that his job is “safe”.

“The reality is they won’t offer me a permanent role…Phil’s job is safe,” Stephen laughed.

Stephen already has his hands full with a string of successful shows including Catchphrase, Rolling In It and In For A Penny and, of course, pops up on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

If they said to me that I had Mariah Carey or Doreen from Doncaster – I can tell you now Doreen from Doncaster would deliver more than Mariah Carey ever would, hands down.

Stephen Mulhern

The magician revealed the secret to In For A Penny’s huge popularity and said that no contestant has ever refused to play.

“We’ve just finished filming the series, it never seizes to amaze me what people will do,” Stephen said.

“There was a guy who was literally on his way to the gym and we stopped him.

“Some people don’t realise that none of the contestants are cast, so on most game shows, you’d apply and then you’d come for an interview and then an audition and then you’d get selected on your personality, the same with Rolling in It and Catchphrase.

“But In For A Penny is an on the street, where we see people there and then.

“This guy was on his way to the gym and I was like ‘look do you want to win a chance to win a £1,000. He was like ‘absolutely yeah, too right’..

“He had to get through five rounds to win the grand, don’t forget we had the hottest summer, imagine this in the baking heat.

“We had a big vat of curry and at the bottom of the curry were three chips – within 30 seconds he had to get the chips out of the vat of curry without using his hands and only had to use his face.

“You can just imagine, we had granny’s doing it, I think people just lose their whole sort of – they just want to have a laugh.”

The telly star explained that he is stunned that every contestant throws themselves into the game.

“It never seizes to amaze me, I don’t know whether it’s the excitement that the TV crew are there and the whole hustle and bustle of it,” he said.

“We’ve never had anybody refuse to do one of our games.

“I prefer working with members of the public than any celebrity – if they said to me that I had Mariah Carey or Doreen from Doncaster – I can tell you now Doreen from Doncaster would deliver more than Mariah Carey ever would, hands down.

“In For A Penny proves this, they have nothing to hide, they just want to have a good time.”

Spilling the beans on how the wacky games come about, Stephen said they are tried on tested on a group of six, including himself.

He revealed: “There is a new game this series called Leaning Tower of Poundza, and we play it in a bank.

“The idea is that you have £50 each in pound coins and you put one hand behind your back and there is a tiny little podium the size of a pound coin and in couples, you’ve got to not place the coins but drop them onto the podium.

“So you stack the coins up and the higher up it goes, whatever is left staying there you get to keep.

“It is honestly quite addictive, if you play it, it’s exciting and not messy and this starts this year.

“The way we come up with the games, a team of six of us and we literally go into a room at ITV and we all gather our thoughts and someone might have seen something funny on TikTok or Instagram and we could turn it into a game.

“And we try them out, we all have to get involved in terms of playing the games. We all get stuck in.”

Despite the show growing in popularity, there is one minor complaint from fans.

When asked if the show should be extended for 60 minute slot, Stephen said: “Oh my god, let me tell you know if I had a pound for everyone saying that it needs to be an hour, but I’m with you on this. As soon as it starts it seems to finish.”

What’s Stephen got up his sleeve….

But right now, Stephen is hoping to entice some of his celebrity pals to take part in a charity version of Catchphrase and he’s already got a few names in mind.

“I’ve always said we should do an episode of Catchphrase with doubles, so you’d have Phil and Holly, Ant and Dec, Ruth and Eamonn, Dermott and Alison. That’s not a bad shout,” the TV star hinted.

Stephen has also set his sights on a number of game shows that he would love to revive.

“There is two that I would love to bring back…You Bet, Matthew Kelly used to host it. It’s just incredible and obviously The Generation Game would be amazing to bring back and Gladiators.

“They tried to bring it back on ice and then on Sky but that didn’t work. If they did it properly then I think it would stand a chance.”

Stephen got his big break in children’s TV in 1998 and has since appeared on SMTV Live, Britain’s Got More Talent, This Morning and Sunday Night At The Palladium.

But the popular host is heading back to where it all started this summer for his brand-new live show at Butlins.

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“It’s all new and it’s completely interactive and it’s for every age group who attends Butlins. I know Butlins inside out, I used to go as a kid and when I worked there as a red coat, that started everything off for me,” the performer said.

“When it came to this show, we called it The Return of Mulhern, that’s exactly what we are doing, we are returning with a big show that involves magic, variety, and interactive audience participation.

“I don’t think there is anything out there like it. Everyone at the moment is struggling in one way or another, so I think what Butlins delivers is the value for money, they don’t call it the home of entertainment for nothing.”

Stephen Mulhern returns to Butlin’s with his brand-new live show. To book your stay at the home of entertainment and experience his new show for yourself.

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