Stephen Mulhern: 'One celeb's daughter said: "I mustn't tell Daddy when a certain man calls!"'

Big Star's Little Star Stephen Main
(Image credit: ITV)

Stephen Mulhern hosts the show where youngsters spill the beans on their famous mum or dad as Big Star's Little Star returns. Here, Stephen reveals the seven things working with kids on TV has taught him...

Big Star's Little Star host Stephen Mulhern reveals what he's learned from working with little people on the box…

1. Always work with children… and animals!

"Whether it's hosting Saturday morning kids’ shows like Ministry of Mayhem back in the Noughties to hosting Big Star’s Little Star or a show like Animals Do The Funniest Things, I’ve covered the whole spectrum of working with kids AND working with animals and, I won’t lie, sometimes it can be a nightmare! Big Star’s Little Star really is one of those shows, though, that ticks all the right boxes. It’s not crude, it’s not rude, it’s funny, it’s always surprising and all of the family can watch it. And I’m over the moon that it’s now been given a Saturday night slot. It's a lot of fun to do."

MINISTRY OF MAYHEM Stephen Holly and Chico

Stephen alongside Holly Willoughby (whatever happened to her?) and Chico Slimani on Saturday morning kids' show, Ministry of Mayhem

2. Kids don't take bribes

"The beauty of Big Star’s Little Star is, when we put the questions to the kids about their celebrity mum or dad, these ‘little stars’ will tell us absolutely ANYTHING! On this show, the celebrity parents are not in control, it’s their kids that hold all the power. Honestly, during filming, so many of the kids tell me that their parent has said to them: ‘If you tell me what the TV people have asked you, we’ll buy you a nice gift, like a new game for your Xbox’. But the kids refuse to tell them anything. Maybe next series I could try and bribe the kids to tell me even juicier secrets!"

3. Kids are really honest…

"I’m a Celebrity star and Loose Women panellist Stacey Solomon appears on the first show of the new series. We asked her nine-year-old son Zachary: ‘Tell us something mummy does, that nobody would ever know!’ And he said: ‘She’s always doing silent farts’. Stacey isn’t the easiest person to embarrass but, when the answer was revealed, she was absolutely mortified!

Big Star Stacey and Zachary

Stacey Solomon braces herself for the secrets her nine-year-old son Zachary might reveal

"Presenter Jenny Powell is also on the first show and we asked her eight-year-old daughter Pollyanna: ‘Does mummy have a secret crush on anyone?’ Jenny’s actual answer was The Voice UK coach but Pollyanna had also told us about Trevor, their next door neighbour. Jenny’s quite formidable and never really gets flustered but when ‘Trevor’ came up as one of the options in the game she was horrified! These celebrities are genuinely nervous about what’s going to be revealed. I’m not a parent myself – but if I had kids, I’d never appear on this show!"

Big Star Jenny and Pollyanna

Viewers will learn a LOT more about presenter Jenny Powell thanks to eight-year-old Pollyanna

4. …but they can sometimes be TOO honest!

"There have been times where a kid has come onto Big Star’s Little Star and has told us far too big a secret about their famous parent for us to broadcast! The question for one child was: ‘Tell me something about mummy that daddy doesn’t know!’ and the response was: ‘I’ve got to keep mummy’s secret’. So I asked: ‘Oh, what’s the secret?’ To which, the little girl responded: ‘I mustn’t ever tell daddy when this certain man calls.’ The people listening in the gallery were in complete shock because names were mentioned about just who this ‘gentleman’ might be. It safe to say what the little girl told us will NEVER see the light of day on screen!"

5. Kids bring out the child in you

"Although I don’t have children myself, I absolutely adore kids and I’ve got four nephews and a beautiful niece that I spend a lot of time with. To work on a show like Big Star’s Little Star you need to enjoy kids’ company, and I certainly do. It’s nice seeing kids just be themselves and I love how kids just say what they like; they have no filter and they’re not guarded like us adults. It’s nice remembering what that was like. Yes there are celebrities on this show but the real stars of Big Star’s Little Star are always the children. Without them we wouldn’t have a show. And the kids love doing it. Even the celebrities who have been horrendously embarrassed by what their kids have revealed tell us afterwards: ‘It’s made my kid’s day!’ That’s all that matters."

Big Star Ronan Keating

Former Boyzone star Ronan Keating and co appeared on series three back in 2015

6. Be patient… and love to laugh!

"The one piece of advice I’d give to anyone working with kids on TV is to have patience. That’s the most important thing on a show like this because it can take a long time to get the kids onside and make sure that, by the end of the day, they’ve become a little friend. You also need to have a good sense of humour. You can’t be the host of an entertainment show based around a kid and their mum or dad and not be able to have a laugh. Everything on Big Star’s Little Star is done in good humour. We would never reveal anything that was seriously detrimental to the celebrity, that’s not what it’s about. It’s just about putting a big smile on viewers’ faces."

Dec and Stephen on Saturday Night Takeaway

Whatever show he's hosting, Stephen will always be wearing THIS colour underwear...

7. Always be prepared

"I never thought I was superstitious but whenever I’m hosting any show on TV now, including Big Star’s Little Star, I’ll always be wearing blue boxer shorts. I think it all came about when I was first offered the role alongside Ant & Dec on Saturday Night Takeaway and I was wearing blue boxer shorts then. I fear that, if I’m wearing black boxers or any other colour and I’m going to do a day’s filming, it will be a bad show. So now, just to be on the safe side, every pair of boxer shorts in my underwear drawer is blue. I’ve got about 30 pairs!"

Big Star's Little Star starts on Saturday July 28 at 7pm on ITV.

Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!