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Stephen Mulhern on In For a Penny 'People will do ANYTHING for £1,000!'

Stephen Mulhern hosts In For a Penny
(Image credit: ITV)

Stephen Mulhern hits the streets of the UK for the game show where players need just a penny to play to win a huge cash prize…

In For a Penny quickly became a much-loved segment of the hugely popular ITV entertainment show Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

It sees the show's co-host Stephen Mulhern – and his sparkly gold jacket – visit towns and cities across the UK, challenging members of the public to a series of silly games. All they need is a penny… to play to win a grand!

Fans will be pleased to know that, this week, Stephen and his jacket are hitting the streets once more as In For a Penny has been given its own series.

In For A Penny Stephen and Derrian

Stephen says people will do anything to win £1,000 - but will Derrian eat a Steak Bake?

As the fun and games kick off in Cardiff this week, Stephen pops up in petrol stations and shopping centres, enticing people to play games such as Pump It Up, Mum's The Word and Check It Out.

Each episode culminates in the hilarious In For A Penny, which sees players take part in five rounds of fun games. If they win all five rounds – including the 'famous' Stopwatch Game – they bag themselves a whopping £1,000.

TV Times quizzes Stephen, 42, on In For a Penny…

People will know In For a Penny as a segment on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. How thrilled are you that it’s been turned into a full series?

"I'm over the moon! This was Ant and Dec's idea and they think it could be the best thing on telly. People want to have a laugh watching TV and forget all the serious stuff and In For a Penny is just good family entertainment. The idea of being able to say to people: 'All you need is a penny to win a grand' is great. It's so simple, it's genius! If I wasn't hosting this show, I’d be gutted."

Why do you think the show works?

"I think it works because it's not contrived. It's not set up; what you see is what you get. It's all about the public but we haven't cast these people, we literally just doorstep them on the street, get them playing silly games and it just seems to work. We have some of the most eccentric characters on this show. Working with the public, I love the fact anything can happen."

Tell us about some of the games involved…

"The beauty of these games is they're so simple. We have games like Pump It Up, The Marshmallow Game and The Dunking Biscuit Game. One of our games involves a line-up of five buckets, four of them have got water in, one’s got confetti. Players have three chances and, if they find the confetti, they instantly win £100. We had one woman who’d just spent £450 having hair extensions put in. Needless to say, they got completely destroyed!"

In For A Penny Stephen Ross and Tracey

Player Ross gets stuck into The Marshmallow Game as Tracey looks on

So are people always eager to play?

"Most people are REALLY up for it! For another of the games, we have a fishing rod with a steak bake from Greggs on the end of it, and one woman had to eat this steak bake without using her hands. As she's doing it, I'm thinking: 'Oh my God' because by the end of it she literally had a steak beard! I've realised, making this show, that people will do ANYTHING for £1,000! Yes, we have shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire but I think we often forget that £1,000 is an awful lot of money to some people."

Do you like being able to help people in some small way?

"Yes. We had one girl who'd made it through to the end Stopwatch Game, where players must stop the clock at an exact time to win the jackpot of £1,000. When I asked her beforehand what she'd do with the money, she said: 'My sister's pregnant and really wants a nice pram'. As I told her she'd won and all the confetti exploded and the crowd cheered, the girl burst into tears of absolute joy, which showed just how much she needed that money. When you see those moments you think: 'That’s incredible'."

In For a Penny starts on Saturday April 13 at 7.30pm on ITV.

Victoria Wilson
Victoria Wilson

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!