Holly Willoughby was born February 10, 1981, in Brighton, England. The youngest of two girls, she was thrust into the limelight at the age of 14 when she was discovered by a modelling scout on a school trip. “I guess that’s every girl’s dream, so it did go to my head a little bit at that age,” she says of her early success as a model. “But it wasn’t as if I was doing sexy shoots…straight away. I was doing adverts for Always sanitary towels, and had to keep that as quiet as possible.”
Luckily, Holly Willoughby soon had something to brag about when she was chosen to model lingerie for Britain’s Pretty Polly brand. “A load of girls were herded into this one room with a heap of bras and told to put one on,” she recalls. “There was a pile of larger bras and a pile of small ones. All the small ones went, and I was the only girl that needed a larger one. I was probably the only model there with a normal body shape.” Holly Willoughby’s womanly figure helped her land the gig, and the ensuing campaign raised her profile around the country.
It also gave her the confidence to broaden her horizons, and Holly Willoughby struck gold again when she accompanied a friend on a casting call for a new show called S Club TV. Even though Holly Willoughby was just there to lend her moral support, she was convinced to audition and she promptly landed a role.
Holly Willoughby enjoyed her experience on the short-lived show immensely. “I loved it from the start,” she says. “I did it for a year and after that I knew I wanted to stay in television.” Holly Willoughby got her wish in 2000, when she began hosting the TV magazine show Xchange. That, in turn, led to more hosting gigs on CBBC at the Fame Academy and Ministry of Mayhem (later named Saturday Showdown), a gleefully demented children’s show which she joined in 2005. Holly Willoughby’s engaging style and bubbly personality made her a natural fit for the program, and she was rewarded for her efforts in 2006, with a children’s BAFTA award for Best Presenter.
Holly Willoughby has since shown off her presenting skills on a number of other popular programs including CD:UK, Feel the Fear, Lip Service, Greased Lightnin’ and a fun-filled reality show, Dancing on Ice. “[It’s] very exciting,” she said of the family friendly program. “Celebrities team up with a professional ice skater and they dance every Saturday night and compete for a place the next week.” In addition to her hosting duties on Dancing on Ice, Holly Willoughby also began hosting the outrageous dating show Streetmate on ITV2 as part of the channel’s XXL Thursday lineup.
Holly Willoughby’s biggest presenting gig to date arrived in August 2008 when she replaced her good friend Fearne Cotton as host of ITV 2’s The Xtra Factor, a spin-off to The X Factor. The show features behind-the-scenes footage of the action on the set of the show, with Holly seen interviewing and motivating the contestants following the comments received from the judges.