Holly Willoughby is back with a third series of her sports panel show Play to the Whistle. If you’re thinking of giving it a watch, or need a quick reminder of what it’s all about, here’s the lowdown.
What is Play to the Whistle?
“It’s a comedy entertainment show loosely pegged on sport, I think is the best way to sum it up,” Holly tells RadioTimes.com.
The ITV show is presented by the This Morning co-host, with broadcaster Bradley Walsh and former professional footballer Frank Lampard as ultra-competitive team captains. Comedian Romesh Ranganathan serves as a panelist and Frank’s sidekick, and there are also celebrity guests from the worlds of comedy and sport.
The two teams compete in a series of silly games and stupid quizzes, while comedian Seann Walsh keeps score.
What is different about series three of Play to the Whistle?
“I think that in the first series everybody was kind of finding their own feet, and in the second series you knew what you’re doing but you’re just going along with it,” Holly explains.
“We really know each other now: we know how far we can push each other, and now we try to dip one toe over the edge of that. So it’s quite nice; there’s real friendships there now. It just feels more fun really.”
Plus, there are shiny new games for the contestants to play.
What are the new games on Play to the Whistle?
“Some of our favourites are back, like Bolt to the Whistle’s, but we’re also bringing in new games which I think is always important,” Holly says.
Face Invaders: “We’ve got this crazy game called Face Invaders where we actually use the contestants as human buzzers,” says Holly. “It’s like there’s an electric current that goes through the circuit and you have to slap people’s faces to make the computer thing move. All will be revealed.”
Bird’s eye view game: “It was called different things every week, but basically all the contestants had these goggles put on, and then the view that they could see out was from the camera that was filming them above. They were walking with a bird’s eye view, and they were then having running races, or relays, or car races…”
Bolt to the Whistle: This one is a classic. “You’ve got four people playing, you’ve got three whistles, and when you hear the correct answer to the question, then you have to grab a whistle and blow it,” Holly says. “It’s last man standing.”
Do you need to know about sport to watch it?
“I think a lot of people get put off because they think, ‘Ugh it’s just going to be a load of football. I can’t watch that, I’m not going to know the answer to any of the questions,'” Holly says
One guest who was particularly anxious was Scarlett Moffatt. But she needn’t have worried.
“I think she was a bit nervous coming on because she thought she didn’t know that much about sport,” Holly says. “And I said to her, ‘Look, that doesn’t actually overly matter. Neither do I, really.’
“But she was great, and we were talking about how she wants to do more presenting, and so she got up and sat in my chair and did a bit of presenting of the show and I was on the panel for a bit.”
But is it still aimed at actual sports fans?
“Definitely, because there are things that come out. Ashley Cole came in and was great, was really open about him leaving Arsenal and going to play for Chelsea, and how the fans reacted to that, and it really surprised me actually how much these sportsmen opened up.”
Sports and comedy: a good match?
“I think it really works, because I think there is a lot of comedy in sport anyway,” Holly says. “I think it’s like that thing where you’re in the pub and you’re watching football and everybody’s chatting and chucking in their two pence worth, and actually when you’re in the pub there talking, you don’t sit there and spend the whole time talking about the game that’s on.
“That’s kind of what it feels like, it feels like just a group of mates just having a laugh whilst loosely chatting about sporty stuff.”
Play to the Whistle starts Tuesday 28th February at 9pm on ITV