Holly Willoughby to host new ITV panel show

Thursday 26th March 2015, 1:59pm


Celebrity Juice. Holly Willoughby. Copyright: Talkback / TalkbackThames.ITV has signed up Holly Willoughby to present a new panel show about sport.

Play To The Whistle will launch on the main ITV channel next month. It is expected to be scheduled on Saturday nights from 11th April.

The seven episode series will feature "two top team captains, a host of the best global sporting talent, the biggest celebrities and most popular comedians, who will arrive match fit and ready to play... to the whistle".

Comedian Bradley Walsh will serve as one of the programme's team captains.

The show will be made by Hungry Bear Media, the production company co-owned by Willoughby's producer husband Dan Baldwin. He has previously worked on panel shows including Celebrity Juice and ITV2's latest comedy format, Reality Bites.

The first episode of the series will be recorded at Fountain Studios in Wembley on Tuesday 31st March. The producers say: "There will be some hilarious physical games as well as traditional panel show material bringing ITV's sport-loving families and friends together for a extravaganza."

It has been known for some time that ITV has wanted to find a panel show for its flagship channel, with many formats piloted in recent years.

Additionally, it has tried to find sport-based comedies, having broadcast one series of You Cannot Be Serious! in early Summer 2012. Hosted by Alistair McGowan and modelled as a sporting version of the then-recently finished Harry Hill's TV Burp, the show was not a success and did not return for a second series.

The sports theme of Play To The Whistle is likely to draw comparisons with Sky's existing hit format A League Of Their Own. However, speaking to Broadcast Magazine, Baldwin explained that the format will be different from both Sky's show and long-running BBC quiz format A Question Of Sport by being filmed close to transmission to allow it to be "reasonably topical".

ITV is aiming the show at the whole family, with Baldwin pointing out "Holly doesn't know a lot about sport, so that will help viewers in the same position."

Willoughby will continue to act as a team captain on Celebrity Juice, which is currently broadcasting on Thursday nights.

To apply to be in the audience at one of the Play To The Whistle recordings, visit our free tickets page

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