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Play to the Whistle is a British sports comedy panel game show that aired on ITV. It was first broadcast on 11 April 2015. In each episode two teams of three competed in sports knowledge rounds and physical games to achieve points for their teams, at the end the team with the most points was declared the winner. It was announced on 15 September 2017 that ITV had decided to axe the series after three series due to low ratings.[1]

Play to the Whistle
Play to the Whistle.png
GenreSports comedy panel game
Presented byHolly Willoughby
StarringBradley Walsh
Frank Lampard
Romesh Ranganathan
Seann Walsh
Jimmy Bullard (2015)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes20 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Dan Baldwin
Production location(s)Fountain Studios (2015–16)
BBC Elstree Centre (2017)
Running time60 minutes (2017; inc. adverts)
45 minutes (2015–16; inc. adverts)
Production company(s)Hungry Bear Media
Original networkITV
Picture format16:9 (HDTV)
Original release11 April 2015 (2015-04-11) –
4 April 2017

The show was hosted by Holly Willoughby. One team was captained by entertainer, actor and presenter Bradley Walsh and the other team by former professional footballer Frank Lampard. Lampard was joined by comedian Romesh Ranganathan as a regular panellist. Seann Walsh, also a comedian, was the resident scorer. Former professional footballer Jimmy Bullard was the host's assistant in the first series.[2]


The show was commissioned as part of ITV's endeavour to find a panel show for their flagship channel after other pilot series had aired. The show was made by Hungry Bear Media and the executive producer was Dan Baldwin, Holly Willoughby's husband. Despite the sport theme, ITV said that they were not targeting sports fans specifically but producing the show for the whole family audience. Baldwin stated that the host's lack of sports knowledge would help viewers in the same position. Filming of each episode took place at the Fountain Studios in Wembley in front of a live studio audience. The first two episodes of the first series were recorded on 31 March 2015, the next two on 20 April, one on 27 April and the final two on 3 May.[2] It was revealed in November 2015 that ITV had ordered a second series.[3] Episodes for this series were recorded on 8 January, 15 January and 17 January 2016 with 2 episodes being recorded each day.

The show's title came from the phrase used in football; the idea that players should continue with the game, even if they believe play should be stopped for any reason, until the referee has blown his whistle to halt play.[4] In the show Willoughby blew her whistle to conclude the rounds.


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 11 April 2015 6 June 2015 8
2 16 April 2016 21 May 2016 6
3 28 February 2017 4 April 2017 6


  1. ^ User, Super. "Play to the Whistle Will Not Get Series 4".
  2. ^ a b "Holly Willoughby to host new ITV panel show". British Comedy Guide. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  3. ^ "ITV order Series 2 of Play To The Whistle". British Comedy Guide. 18 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Weekly Football Phrase: To Play to the Whistle". Retrieved 15 April 2015.

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