Bradley Walsh is on every TV show going - this is why ITV slipped up with Dancing on Ice snub, analysis by Alex Davies

Bradley Walsh is on every TV show going - this is why ITV slipped up with Dancing on Ice snub, analysis by Alex Davies

WATCH NOW: Bradley Walsh meets Fanny Chmelar on Michael Mcintyre's Big Show

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 26/01/2024

- 06:00

Updated: 26/01/2024

- 11:24

While I may have seen him more than my close family members so far this year, it's hard to argue that Dancing on Ice's slippery ratings wouldn't have been bolstered by The Chase front-man, says GB News' Digital Entertainment Editor

Bradley Walsh's guest appearance on Michael McIntyre's Big Show last weekend provided a moment in UK TV history that will not only be spoken about this year but for plenty to come.

In a decade when scrolling through Facebook - or whatever dystopian equivalent Mr Zuckerberg will have conjured up for us - you'll feel obliged to watch a topless Walsh come face to face with alpine skier and legendary quiz question answer, Fanny Chmelar, while in the comfort of a Premier Inn bed.

McIntyre managed to get Chmelar to agree to surprise the 63-year-old star as part of his Midnight Gameshow segment, over a decade on from when Walsh was left in pieces during a recording of The Chase at the sound of her name.

In less than a week, the skit has been viewed millions of times on social media, been branded "iconic" and cemented itself in UK light entertainment folklore.

Laughs were aplenty but less than 24 hours later, the same couldn't be said when Holly Willoughby and Schofield replacement Stephen Mulhern returned rink-side for the second instalment of Dancing on Ice.

ITV's latest lacklustre attempt of dominating the ratings in a primetime weekend slot has fallen flat thus far, with the 2024 premiere raking in its lowest-ever viewing figures.

Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby

Dancing on Ice backlash: Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby's jokes have fallen flat


The tired format aside, this was arguably a big surprise seeing as it was Willoughby's first return to screens since quitting This Morning back in October.

But the fanfare was far from what ITV would've liked and that's only been made worse by her new co-star Mulhern being met with a - let's say - rather divided reaction from viewers.

"Stephen Mulhern has been a disaster tonight, I had high hopes for him but he has made a mess of this show, get rid of him straight away #DancingOnIce," one critic said on X with a second adding: "No one more painfully unfunny than the always second-best Stephen Mulhern #DancingOnIce."

A third summarised their thoughts on Mulhern's stint by simply posting: "Stephen Mulhern, that was painful #dancingonice."

To be fair to Mulhern, his daft sense of humour combined with passive-aggressive jibes and self-deprecation is perfect for a show like In For A Penny where he oversees members of the public covered in squirty cream or forced to don humiliating costumes.

And while seeing Ricky Hatton shuffle across the ice may have seemed like a demeaning public display on par with the Game of Thrones 'Shame' scene, Dancing on Ice just doesn't feel like the kind of arena for Mulhern's style.

WATCH HERE: Ricky Hatton punches Stephen Mulhern on Dancing on Ice

From painfully giving parking tickets to Claire Sweeney's Roman carriage to becoming "stuck" on Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards' entrance apparatus, it's telling that Mulhern's biggest laugh came when Hatton decked him with a harder-than-expected punch.

However, Mulhern wasn't alone in facing criticism from perturbed telly watchers as Walsh's cameo wasn't unanimously met with glee.

Walsh's presence in yet another primetime show led to several viewers feeling they'd had enough of seeing him on their screens - he'd fronted The Chase Celebrity Special and Gladiators with son Barney back to back before McIntyre's show.

But beyond those examples, in recent memory, Walsh has fronted Blankety Blank for the Beeb, ITV's Breaking Dad with son Barney, had a leading role in The Larkins, entertained royalty at the Royal Variety Performance, and is on screen every day on the regular Chase.

Despite some moans, telly bosses love him - so why, oh why, did ITV not pull out all the stops to get him alongside Willoughby?

After all, he's said to be "pretty much inseparable" with Willoughby's TV producer hubby Dan Baldwin, according to the Daily Mail's insiders, and even has experience working alongside the 42-year-old ex-This Morning star on the now-axed Take Off with Bradley & Holly and ITV panel show Play to the Whistle.

He's also clearly a ratings winner - Gladiators bagged more than eight million viewers with its premiere and The Chase regularly draws in over three million a night, according to Barb's latest figures.

Bradley Walsh and son Barney

Bradley Walsh for Dancing on Ice?: It's hard to escape Bradley Walsh and son Barney on screens at the moment


The opportunity may lie ahead though as Mulhern recently addressed his Dancing on Ice future after the handful of episodes.

"I'm definitely doing the whole series. Of course, next year I'd love to do it," he told The Sun - alluding to the fact nothing is set in stone just yet.

He added: "There's not many shows out there where you get to do live TV and also I get to do a show with Holly which I haven't done in so long. I trust Holly and she trusts me. We're having a really nice time."

But if ITV listens to the disgruntled voices on social media as well as the deafening silence in the rink post-Mulhern-gag, they may have to look elsewhere to bolster DOI's flailing figures.

And while I may have seen him more than my close family members so far this year, it's hard to argue that Dancing on Ice's slippery ratings wouldn't have been bolstered by The Chase front-man.

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