ITV Catchphrase and Saturday Night Take Away: Stephen Mulhern’s real life – EastEnders star romance, Holly Willoughby ‘kiss’, and secret empire


Stephen Mulhern is a regular face on the telly when it comes to Saturday night entertainment.

From hosting Catchphrase and In For A Penny to being a regular on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway – there probably isn’t a time when you haven’t seen him on screen.

And he recently branched into Sunday night too when he stepped in for Phillip Schofield last month on Dancing On Ice alongside Holly Willoughby.

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But presenting isn’t where Stephen started out.

The London-born star was just 11 years old when he started learning magic tricks from his father and performing for the public while on holiday at Butlin’s.

He became the youngest member of The Magic Circle after they broke with tradition and allowed a 17-year-old Stephen into their society.

But he later risked his membership when he revealed the secrets behind a magic trick on the TV show, Finger Tips, which he was hosting with Fearne Cotton.

He therefore broke one of The Magic Circle’s major rules – don’t tell anyone how you did it – but he was only temporarily suspended and was soon reinstated.

Stephen with Fearne Cotton as they hosted Finger Tips

However, back in 2015, Stephen was suspended again. “I got back into The Magic Circle, but CITV started repeating the show,” he told heat magazine.

“Every time they repeat it, I get suspended. I’m suspended [at the moment]. It’s ridiculous. You couldn’t write it.”

But before his TV break, Stephen was turned down at age 18 by Michael Barrymore for ITV show My Kind of People, but won another television talent show called The Big Big Talent Show which was hosted by Jonathan Ross.

As a result, in 1997 he was invited to take part in the Royal Variety Performance at the Victoria Palace Theatre and the following year he joined CITV as one of their main presenters.

Over the next few years, Stephen hosted a variety of children’s programmes including SMTV Live but in 2004, Stephen was teamed up with Holly Willoughby for Saturday Showdown on CITV , which later became known as Ministry of Mayhem.

Having remained friends ever since, fans were stunned by a throwback clip of the pair locking lips in 2004 from when they were hosting a festive special of Saturday Showdown together.

Holly and Stephen back in 2005

At the time, Stephen gave Holly a present with a green elf hat and some mistletoe inside.

On the show, Holly sang: “Hurray for me! I can kiss all of the boys in the world all of the time.

“Tis the season to kiss Holly, fa la la la la la la la la!”

However, when Stephen leaned in for a kiss on the lips she told him: “No! Stephen, you don’t count!”

Stephen replied: “What do you mean, I don’t count? Whoever you are under the mistletoe with you must kiss”.

After giving her another Christmas kiss, Holly exclaimed: “Don’t wear my lips out, I am going to be kissing Anthony from Blue soon…”

Michael Underwood was also a presenter on Ministry of Mayhem with Holly and Stephen

Away from screens, Stephen lives a very private life with not much known about his family or relationships.

However, back in 2008, Stephen was linked to EastEnders star Emma Barton and reportedly started dating the popular actress a few years before she joined the cast of the BBC soap as Honey Mitchell.

The pair met and were said to have grown close in a pantomime production of Snow White in Birmingham but the pair never confirmed if they had been in a relationship despite being spotted over the course of three years.

But, while still not confirming their romance, in 2011, Stephen said his time with Emma came to a “natural end”.

Emmerdale’s Emma Barton

The last time he opened up about his love life was in 2018, when Stephen admitted that he enjoyed a brief romance four years previous to that, but had been single ever since.

Stephen is also reported to have invested his money into property, having a secret property empire away from his TV work.

The 44-year-old reported by the Mirror as being a multi-home owner, with properties sprawling across the UK with pads in Benfleet Essex, Leicester, and Barnet, as well as his own luxurious home in London.

His property portfolio, under his firm JFDI Productions, has six homes on its books and is said to be worth around £2.2million with his net worth reportedly standing at £7million.

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