Whenever ITV announces a new programme or revival, there’s a small pool of TV presenters, one of whom is almost guaranteed to land the gig.
Paddy McGuinness, Emma Willis, Holly and/or Phil. And, increasingly, Stephen Mulhern.
The 41-year-old host is certainly starting to work overtime for the channel. In just two weeks, Mulhern has been announced as the presenter of two brand new commissions.
First came the reveal that his self-deprecating Saturday Night Takeaway gameshow In For A Penny was getting a full series, and now it’s been confirmed that he has been chosen to host the newly-acquired National Lottery draw for the channel.
Mulhern has been an ITV mainstay for over a decade, hosting the revival of Catchphrase and Big Star’s Little Star alongside even fluffier and less well-received Saturday night programmes such as Go for It and Get Your Act Together (as no-one remembers either, Go for It was a medley of the worst bits of Britain’s Got Talent – people smashing watermelons on their head or unicycling over a row of cans – while celebrity circus show Get Your Act Together saw Jedward learning to skip and Sinitta pole dancing. Unsurprisingly, both programmes lasted only one series before being cancelled).
But recently it feels like ITV are cranking Mulhern up a gear. Those earlier shows could realistically have been hosted by any one of the small-but-select paddock of ITV all-stars: Paddy, Emma – even Keith Lemon. But In For A Penny is very much Mulhern’s vehicle. It’s not the format that makes the programme. It’s his personality and persona on which the entire show hangs.
If further evidence were needed of just how much the broadcaster values Mulhern, when he was forced to miss four days of filming Britain’s Got More Talent earlier this year owing to illness, he actually urged ITV them to find a replacement host but was turned down.
“At one point, I did say they should get someone else to do the days I wasn’t there so that we still had content,” Stephen revealed. “But ITV said, and I took this as a huge compliment, that I’ve made the show my own and there’s no other presenter they could see doing it in the style I do it.”
Highly regarded by his employers and with two new shows in the offing, is the ‘irreplaceable’ Stephen Mulhern ITV’s next Mr Saturday Night?