By: Laura Denby
From assisting Ant and Dec on Saturday Night Takeaway to hosting game show Catchphrase, popular presenter Stephen Mulhern has been boosting our spirits over the past year. He fronts a selection of television shows for ITV, including the soon to return In For a Penny and last year’s new addition Rolling In It.
Yet given his flexible skill set, Stephen could easily run his very own variety programme, designed to move away from the quiz show element.
We love watching his work in this genre; and his contributions on Ant and Dec’s long-standing show are always enjoyable and memorable. But we want to see Stephen’s talents take centre stage.
A tailor-made show could offer a fresh take while combining all the qualities that make him so watchable. Stephen has the ability to move seamlessly from the role of compère to magician, to comedian and prankster. While he is one of the country’s finest, the star is much more than a host. The way he expands the role on In For A Penny proves that; yet a refreshing new structure could take his abilities a step further.
Stephen’s hilarious one-liners highlight his flair for comedy, so a show that mixes this with his mischievous nature would be ideal. The recent series of Saturday Night Takeaway saw him orchestrate the On Air Dares feature by targeting daytime hosts including Lorraine Kelly and Holly Willoughby; and it was a hit with fans. He clearly loved every minute of this challenge, and would thrive all the more if given this kind of free rein in a less restricted environment.
It’s a freedom he took advantage of brilliantly while hosting Britain’s Got More Talent, the ITV2 spin-off from Britain’s Got Talent that sadly went off air in 2019.
With plenty of backstage antics, Stephen chatted to potential contestants during the audition stages and injected an extra sense of fun with laugh-a-minute wisecracks. This is the kind of laid-back format we want to see for him, with one key difference: it’s unattached to any other show.
His direct approach with people has always been a useful quality; and it’s what makes his television presence so distinctive as he never holds back.
On a broader scale, Stephen could continue his unique rapport with the public. To his credit, he’s never afraid to look daft (as his role on Takeaway attests with those outrageous outfits) so audience members will happily follow suit.
Putting his trademark silliness on a bigger platform would bring the entertainment to the next level; and Stephen has the universal respect of viewers to make his own brand a success.
A family-friendly tone could be the way forward, drawing from Stephen’s equal popularity with audiences of all generations. We also can’t forget Stephen’s talent for magic tricks – something that has proved to delight and captivate the attention of young fans.
In recent years, magic has made the occasional appearance on his programmes; most notably on Big Star’s Little Star. But a show that allows him unlimited, dedicated time would put this talent in the spotlight where it belongs.
An alternative concept could give Stephen the space to showcase his versatility for those who are unaware of everything he can do.
Stephen’s improvised style would shine through, too. This is one particular expertise of the TV personality, as his sharp wit on live television regularly demonstrates. His satirical style often appears through the catchphrase “Unbelievable!” – and this would make a great title for the suggested production.
It covers his comedic side as well as his links to magic, and could be uttered by guests whether in reference to Stephen’s tricks or inevitable pranks and jokes. Such a programme could be broadcast onstage from a theatre; or in a studio as with Stephen’s current television shows.
Whatever the setting, the focus would be on him rather than his well-established presenting skills.
With his endless energy, perfect comic timing and obvious passion for entertainment, Stephen Mulhern is a welcome enduring presence on our screens. He has already been cemented as one of ITV’s best-loved assets, and it’s clear Stephen can capture our interest no matter the scenario.
So let’s see him conquer the television variety circuit – the campaign starts here!