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Holly Willoughby given Miss Marple role 'as a birthday present'

This Morning host Holly Willoughby revealed today she had landed her dream role in a Miss Marple drama - as a birthday present.

Willoughby was given the part as a treat because she is a huge fan of the Agatha Christie whodunnits.

She said: "It's been a lifelong ambition for me to appear in one of the Marple films as I've been a fan for years."

The presenter, who also hosts ITV1 show Dancing On Ice, plays 17th century witch Goody Carne who pops up in the film when Miss Marple - Julia McKenzie - attends a ritual "burning" in her memory.

The film, called The Pale Horse, features a number of other well known-figures in the cast.

They include Radio 4's Just A Minute host Nicholas Parsons, former Neighbours actress and chart act Holly Valance, Young Ones star Nigel Planer and Coupling's Sarah Alexander.

ITV1's This Morning production team worked with producers of the drama to surprise Willoughby with her guest part.

She said today: "I had an amazing time and felt very welcomed by everyone on set, especially Julia McKenzie, who kindly lent me her handwarmers on our cold night shoot. I'm so grateful to everyone who made this possible for me."