How similar are Cat Deeley and Holly Willoughby's careers?

From teen modelling to working with Ant and Dec, This Morning's new leading lady has a lot in common with her predecessor.

Cat Deeley and Holly Willoughby (Getty)
Cat Deeley and Holly Willoughby have a lot in common when you look back at their careers. (Getty Images)

Cat Deeley has now joined Ben Shephard to make their debut as This Morning's new permanent hosts.

The pair are said to offer viewers stability as regular familiar faces, following a period of upheaval for the ITV daytime show. This Morning has been presented by a roster of ever-changing guest hosts since Phillip Schofield's controversial departure in May 2023, followed by Holly Willoughby's dramatic resignation in October 2023 following an alleged kidnapping plot.

So producers are pinning their hopes on Deeley and Shephard as the new Holly and Phil – who hosted the show together for 14 years, sharing a one long-standing friendship, strong chemistry and an on-screen camaraderie. So how do the new duo compare to the old?

Looking back at their careers to date, Deeley and Willoughby have a lot in common.

Teen models

Holly Willoughby attending a Miss Selfridge fashion event in London on 24th March 2004
Holly Willoughby attending a Miss Selfridge fashion event in 2004. (Alamy)

Willoughby, 43, was just 14 years old when she was spotted by a talent scout at the Clothes Show Live and signed with Storm modelling agency. She went on to model for teen magazines including Mizz, Just Seventeen and Shout, as well as being the 'legs' of Pretty Polly tights brand.

Deeley, 47, was also aged 14 when she was signed up to be a teen model, after entering a competition for BBC's The Clothes Show. She was a fulltime fashion model for seven years before she landed her first TV presenting on MTV.

Kids TV

Anthony McPartlin (left) and Declan Donnelly meet Cat Deeley,  co-presenter of a new Saturday morning TV series launched. SMTV://LIVE, starting on ITV Saturday 29th August, will feature music, cartoons and sketches.   (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Anthony McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and Cat Deeley hosted Saturday morning kids TV show SMTV. (Getty Images)

Deeley rose to fame on kids TV, co-hosting SM:TV on ITV with Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly from 1998 to 2002. The live Saturday morning magazine show featured comedy sketches, celebrity guests and interviews and cartoons. Sketches included Chums, a parody of US sitcom Friends, which saw the three presenters all living in a flat together and featured a fictional romance between Deeley and Donnelly.

And Willoughby bagged her first TV presenting role on CITV, presenting the Ministry of Mayhem on Saturday mornings from 2004. The show was then renamed Stephen and Holly's Saturday Showdown, which she hosted with her now Dancing on Ice co-host Stephen Mulhern.

Ant and Dec

Anthony McPartlin, Holly Willoughby and Declan Donnelly attending the ITV Summer Reception on July 17, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/FilmMagic)
Holly Willoughby with pals Ant and Dec. (Getty Images)

Just like Deeley, Willoughby has taken her turn working with Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. Most notably in 2018 she was chosen to stand in for McPartlin to co-host I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! with Donnelly. This was because McPartlin was in recovery battling alcoholism following his arrest for drink driving.

Dance hosts

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Cat Deeley in The Dancers Dozen episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE episode airing Wednesday, June 15 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
Cat Deeley has hosted 17 seasons of US show So You Think You Can Dance. (FOX via Getty Images)

Both Willoughby and Deeley have hosted big-budget family entertainment dance talent shows. Willoughby has just co-hosted he 16th series of Dancing on Ice with Stephen Mulhern on ITV, while Deeley moved across the Atlantic in 2006 to present US show So You Can Think You Can Dance, which she has hosted for the past 17 seasons.

US success Vs Girl-next-door

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22:  Holly Willoughby, Leigh Francis and Fearne Cotton attend the DVD signing for 'Celebrity Juice: Too Juicy For TV 2' at HMV, Oxford Street on November 22, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/UK Press via Getty Images)
Holly Willoughby was a regular panelist on Leigh Francis' gameshow Celebrity Juice. (Getty Images)

It's not all complete symmetry for Deeley and Willoughby. Deeley took a gamble on cracking the US when she moved to the US to present So You Think You Can Dance – and she achieved that transatlantic success, remaining there for work for 14 years. Deeley has hosted dating game The Choice, been a regularly panellist on Celebrity Name Game, acted in supernatural sitcom Deadbeat and even had a cameo on The Simpsons.

Choosing to stay on home soil, Willoughby has still forged a very successful career of her own. She was a team captain on comedy panel show Celebrity Juice for many years, co-presented survival show Freeze the Fear with iceman Wim Hof and made a cameo appearance in Midsomer Murders.

She has also branched out as a lifestyle guru, launching her own website Wylde Moon and branched out into the realm of celebrity author when she and her sister Kelly published their series of School For Stars children's books in 2014.

Family first

Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley arrive on the red carpet ahead of the 20th Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) Awards ceremony at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre. Picture date: Sunday May 7, 2023. (Photo by Damien Eagers/PA Images via Getty Images)
Cat Deeley is married to Irish comedian Patrick Kielty. (Getty Images)

Deeley and Willoughby have both demonstrated that they agree on putting their families first. Deeley previously revealed that she decided to move back to the UK after husband Patrick Kielty and one of her two sons were caught up in a shopping mall shooting. Deeley and Irish comedian Kielty were friends for many years before they began dating. They married in Rome in 2012.

Willoughby met TV production boss husband Dan Baldwin back when she got her first presenting job at CITV. The TV presenter always took time off from This Morning to spend the school holidays at home with her children Harry, 14, daughter Belle, 12, eight-year-old son Chester and dog Bailey.

Ben Shephard and Phillip Schofield

 Ben Shephard attends the UK premiere of
Ben Shephard studied drama at university. (Getty Images for Sky)

Work experience

Ben Shephard, 49, and Phillip Schofield, 61, both showed a determination to break into the difficulty industry of TV from an early age. Shephard has revealed that he went along to a casting for local weather network when he was a university student. He then got a job as a runner for the TV station, and has revealed he would do menial jobs such painting backgrounds and answering the phone while he pursued he dream of becoming a TV star.

Meanwhile, Schofield has told how he spent many years as a teenager, writing letters to the BBC, begging for a chance to work for them. When he was just 17 he took up the role of bookings clerk and tea boy at BBC radio.


Phillip Schofield takes the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which returns to London for a limited nine-week season. The Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice hit musical will open at  the Hammersmith Apollo from 27 February.   (Photo by David Cheskin - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Phillip Schofield in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. (PA Images via Getty Images)

After rising to fame as a Children's TV presenter in the CBBC Broom Cupboard, Schofield also forged a career on the West End stage. In 1991, he was cast in the leading role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

By contrast, Shephard started out wanting to become an actor. He studied at Birmingham University and achieved a degree in Dance, Drama and Theatre Arts. But after his TV career took off, first on Channel 4 spin-off show The Bigger Breakfast in 1998, he let go of his acting dream and focused on presenting.

Game shows

Ben Shephard will be returning to Tipping Point filming after it was suspended back in March. (RDF Television/ITV)
Ben Shephard hosts Tipping Point. (ITV)

Shephard is a familiar face to ITV daytime viewers, having hosted breakfast show GMTV since 2005, followed by being a regular hosts of Good Morning Britain right up until he left to join This Morning. But has also hosted a string of game shows including Ninja Warrior UK and Tipping Point.

In contrast, Schofield's TV career came to abrupt end in May 2023 amid a scandal that saw him admitting to having an “unwise but not illegal” affair with a much younger ITV staff member. But before that he was arguably one of the most successful presenters on ITV, hosting award ceremonies and games shows such as All Star Mr & Mrs, The Cube and 5 Gold Rings.

This Morning airs on ITV from 10am to 12.30pm on weekdays.

Read more: This Morning