Holly Willoughby smiling and with Dancing on Ice co-host Stephen Mulhern

Holly Willoughby ’emotional’ as she returns to spotlight in Dancing On Ice first look amid frosty reception from viewers

The show returns with Stephen and Holly at the helm next weekend

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The news that Holly Willoughby is back to front Dancing On Ice next weekend has been met with a bit of a chilly response from fans of the skating show.

It was recently announced by ITV that Holly would make her TV comeback on Dancing On Ice – three months after quitting This Morning.

And, as the first picture with her new co-host Stephen Mulhern is released, viewers have delivered their verdict. And, sadly for Holly, it appears the welcome from fans of the show may be a little chilly…

Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby in their official Dancing On Ice press shot
Stephen Mulhern has been a pillar of strength for Holly Willoughby amid news of her TV return (Credit: ITV)

Holly’s TV return

In a picture released overnight (January 6), Holly can be seen smiling standing alongside Stephen. It’s claimed the pair met up for a private photoshoot two weeks ago – days after she made her first public outing since leaving This Morning.

In the picture, Holly can be seen wearing a strapless floor-length red Vivienne Westwood gown. It costs a whopping £3,200.

And, according to friends, the prospect of returning to the spotlight proved to be quite emotional for Holly.

They claimed to the Daily Mail: “It was quite an emotional day, it felt like the beginnings of a routine after months of being at home and shutting herself off from the outside world. But Holly has always loved wearing dreamy, princess-style gowns on Dancing On Ice, it was always her time to get really dressed up.”

The fact that her long-time friend Stephen will be by her side for the Dancing On Ice stint is also helping, the friend continued.

“It really made a difference to Holly’s mindset to know that Stephen would be with her all of the way. It has really made her smile. When you have that much history with someone you feel safe,” they speculated.

The source then reflected on the period of change, following the apparent end of her friendship – and TV partnership – with Phillip Schofield.

“The last year has been a huge change for her. For years and years, Phil was with her and suddenly he was gone. To be working with Stephen again at such a poignant time in her career is special for Holly. Whether she went back to Dancing On Ice was a quandary for Holly, some gentle persuasion from Stephen definitely helped to seal the deal,” the source added.

Holly Willoughby news: Star ‘won’t acknowledge her time off’

The presenter is set to return to our screens next Sunday (January 14) at 6.30pm on ITV1. And it’s thought she’s using the return of Dancing On Ice as an opportunity to move on with her life.

The source then continued that it’s “unlikely” she’ll reference her time off. In fact, they think it’ll be “business as usual” for the blonde presenter.

ED! has contacted Holly’s reps for comment.

Viewers react

The reception Holly gets when she returns to our screens may be a little frosty, though.

After the official Dancing On Ice Twitter account posted the picture of Holly and Stephen online, the comments pour in.

And it seems not everyone is happy to see the host again.

“Lots will be turning off if she is back, so no thanks not for me,” said one at the news Holly Willoughby would be returning next week.

Lots will be turning off if she is back, so no thanks not for me.

“Stephen will be good but not Holly. She is two-faced. Look at how she treated Philip,” said another.

“Why oh why is she back!” said a third. “Big mistake bringing Holly back. Nobody will ever be able to disassociate her from Schofield. She won’t last long,” another then said.

However, others are looking forward to the new partnership.

“I’m so sure Stephen will give Holly that little boost that she needs as will the audience and the ‘nice people’ at home. Looking forward to it,” said one. Another then added: “Great that Holly is back where she belongs. I think she and Stephen will be great.” A third then commented: “Looking forward to it. These two should make a good pairing. Love this show.”

Dancing On Ice is back next Sunday (January 14) at 6.30pm.

Read more: Holly Willoughby tipped to take over from Claudia Winkleman on BBC show

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Nancy Brown
Associate Editor