The penny has finally dropped for Stephen Mullhern.
Stephen Mulhern, In For A Penny.
Tell us about your new game show In For A Penny? How does it work?
The idea of In For A Penny is celebrating the great British public. We travel around the country to loads of different places, who knows where we’re going to be, surprising people in the street or shopping centres and all you’ve got to have is a penny to play the game.
If you get through five rounds you could win yourself a thousand pounds. All the games are completely different and very simple, for example, we have the biscuit game where you’ve got an array for biscuits, custard crèmes, hobnobs, bourbons, you select your biscuit you put it into a hot cup of tea for 5 seconds, hold it at a certain height and if it stays intact for 10 seconds you’re through to the next round. We find out all about the eccentric people of Britain, the amazing people, the funny people everyone is involved.
Was it nice filming out and about rather in a studio?
The thing about being out and about is that anything can happen. In a studio its fairly controlled, but when were out filming In For A Penny crowds just joined us and you get to see genuine reactions, it was like a like a breath of fresh air.
You find some great characters – after so many years working with members of the public, can you spot a great character?
Literally I promise, you can ask the team, the producers, the crew, I can see someone and say ‘she will be amazing, he will be fantastic, we’ve got to have that person for one reason or another’, I’m going to go as far as to say my hit ratio (at picking contestants) is 8 out or 10, that’s pretty high!
Stephen also hosts revived classic Catchphrase for ITV.
Did anyone surprise you?
There are so many but one that stands out is ‘Fishing for Food’. In the game we have a steak bake or a vegetarian pie, so anyone can play it. Its on the end of a fish rod that I’m controlling, bobbing up and down and players have got is 30 seconds to eat the pie itself. And one lovely lady made me cry with laughter because whilst she managed to complete it, she ended up going into the next round with what I can only describe as beard of steak, it has to be seen to be believed. I think one of the great things about this show is that you’ll be talking about it the next day.
Do you have a favourite game?
My favourite game is the stop watch game, simply because like all the other games its so simple. For those that don’t know about it, I give you a time, for example 14 seconds. The stop watch starts on zero, three, two, one go. If you stay stop and its on 14 seconds you win £1000. The reason I like this game the most is it’s the chance to give away the £1000 itself and it’s the most tense moment in the show because it all revolves around this moment.
Have you played the stop watch game on any of your friends and if so who was the best?
Oh yeah! I played it on Ant and Dec and between them they decided that Dec would do the stopping, and he nailed it straight away. I’ve tried it on Amanda (Holden), Alesha (Dixon), David Walliams, Simon Cowell, Emma Willis so many people and its so addictive because if you don’t get it right the first time, it’s a case of ‘give me another go’ but the answer is, just like on In For A Penny, you only get one chance.
Early days, hosting Finger Tips for Children’s ITV
What appealed to you about the show?
Quite simple what made me want to do this show the most is its with members of the public and I know first-hand from doing stage shows and from doing my own variety show on stage that members of the public are far better fun than celebrities. And now I’m going have celebrities going to me ‘oh how could you say that’ but its true. Because they’ve got nothing to worry about, all they’ve got to do is have a good time and on In For A Penny that exactly what they have.
You’ve done a host of game shows, who is your favourite all time game show host?
I think without question Bruce Forsyth was the master of gameshows. You can learn lots from him and I certainly have. I would definitely say he by far was the leader of the pack.
Is there a gameshow (past and present) that you think, I would have loved to have hosted that?
I would have loved to have hosted Stars In Their Eyes, You Bet, Play Your Cards Right and Generation Game. I was on Stars In Their Eyes and I performed as Robbie Williams but if I was to go on again I would like to be Ed Sheeran because I think the actual make over would be phenomenal.