Holly Willoughby was told not to wear a BRA to be ‘more attractive’ to male viewers, including on children’s television, friends claim in latest misogyny row

TV chiefs were facing a new misogyny controversy last night amid claims that Holly Willoughby was told by male executives to go braless – on a children’s show – in the early stages of her career.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the This Morning host, now 42, was told doing so would make her ‘more attractive’ to male viewers.

One close associate of the star says that he raised concerns at the time with a senior member of staff who was working behind the scenes on one of the shows.

‘Before I knew who Holly even was, I saw her without a bra on and asked a director who she was and why she was dressed like that,’ the friend said.

‘I said she needs to get a bra on, it was children’s television. I reminded Holly of it some time later and she said they made her not wear a bra, that the shows weren’t actually for children.

TV chiefs were facing a new misogyny controversy last night amid claims that Holly Willoughby was told by male executives to go braless – on a children’s show – in the early stages of her career

Ms Wiloughby pictured in 2004 dyring the Ministry of Mayhem TV show

‘It was pretty staggering that this was going on.’

Another friend added: ‘It’s pretty awful, it doesn’t even seem that long ago. And what’s worse is that Holly probably wasn’t the only one.’

During her time on ITV Saturday morning show Ministry Of Mayhem from 2004 to 2006, Ms Willoughby was put in several risque outfits for the cameras.

She was dressed as a maid, wearing a black short skirt and matching top; as well as a skimpy festive Mrs Christmas outfit. She also appeared in low-cut tops and was drenched in water or gunge while appearing on the programme.

One television insider told this newspaper: ‘It was what it was like back then, young women were told what they should wear and they didn’t say no. Like with a lot of other industries, television was run predominantly by men and young, pretty ambitious women were hired and they had to do as they were told. It was wholly misogynistic.’

Ms Willoughby is now also known for her chic fashion choices, with many of her outfits selling out after she posts them on Instagram

In 2004, she fronted Ministry Of Mayhem alongside Stephen Mulhern, which later became known as Holly & Stephen’s Saturday Showdown. She also stood in on CD:UK after Cat Deeley left

Some years later, Leigh Francis, her friend and former colleague on Celebrity Juice, gave her the nickname ‘Holly Willoughbooby’, which stuck into her A-list career.

Ms Willoughby, now one of the most sought-after television presenters in the UK, became a household name in 2006 when she began hosting ITV’s Dancing On Ice with Phillip Schofield. 

Three years later she landed her dream job when she was hired to replace Fern Britton to host This Morning alongside Schofield. She began her career on children’s show S Club TV before presenting Xchange for the BBC and CCBC At The Fame Academy.

In 2004, she fronted Ministry Of Mayhem alongside Stephen Mulhern, which later became known as Holly & Stephen’s Saturday Showdown. She also stood in on CD:UK after Cat Deeley left.

Ms Willoughby is now also known for her chic fashion choices, with many of her outfits selling out after she posts them on Instagram.

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