Mr Saturday night Stephen Mulhern on how his new series 'ticks every box' for a hit game show...
Stephen Mulhern seems to have a thing for coin-based game shows!
Already the host of ITV's prime-time hit In For a Penny, where all players needed is a penny for the chance to win a £1,000, now he's fronting brand-new series Rolling In It, which involves giant coins and a moving conveyor belt!
From the makers of Saturday Night Takeaway and The Chase, every episode sees three members of the public each paired with a celebrity and they must roll coins towards slots worth varying amounts of money. But if the coin goes down the dreaded 'Bankrupt' slots, they lose everything.
In this week's opener, Coronation Street stars Antony Cotton, Jennie McAlpine and Sair Khan will be trying their hardest to help their partners win the jackpot.
Here in an exclusive interview, Stephen Mulhern, 43, tells us why Rolling It In is set to brighten our Saturday nights...
So, first In For A Penny, now this… You love a coin-based game, don’t you?
"Ha, ha! It's pure fluke but I guess you’re right. Maybe it’s the lucky penny, who knows?"
In a nutshell, how would you describe Rolling In It?
"Three members of the public each team up with three celebrities, who’ll help them win as much money as they can. It’s all based on the classic Roll A Win arcade game where you roll a 2p coin down a lane – and if the coin lands between the lines of a sum of money, you win that money."
Where does the jeopardy come in this game?
"Well, contestants can steal another player’s money, they might have to halve their own money, or they could lose all their money, if a coin lands on ‘bankrupt’. Players must answer general knowledge questions throughout in order to bank the money a coin has landed on. But this show isn't about intelligence, it’s about luck. That’s where the jeopardy comes in. The last player remaining is relying on the roll of one final coin to win the jackpot. You could have played the best game in the world – but if that last coin doesn't land well, it’s game over!"
Are the celebrities really competitive, wanting to win for their own contestant?
"Yes, in the first show, the Corrie stars certainly are. When one team loses all their money, Antony Cotton literally laughs in their faces! I was also surprised at how competitive Jimmy Carr was. All the celebrities really want their player to win and I remember there being a real camaraderie between Joel Dommett and his contestant. They’d only just met but, by the end, they were like brothers. The celebrities definitely feel a pressure they wouldn’t on other shows. The contestant could stand to win £45,000... then the celebrity rolls the coin and loses it all."
Did you get to play this game yourself? And did you ever play Roll A Win as a kid?
"I’m lucky because I get to roll the first coin, to start the contestants off with a prize pot. I LOVED Roll A Win. I used to visit the arcade with my little bucket of 2p coins and play it for hours. So to now be hosting a show that involves a supersized version of the biggest arcade game in the world, it’s every kid’s dream!"
What do you think makes a great game show?
"Rolling In It is a breath of fresh air because it’s fun and exciting – when a coin gets close to any of the ‘danger’ slots, the atmosphere in the studio is intense! And it’s unpredictable – the coins have a mind of their own, so you never know who’s going to win. This ticks every box for a great game show."
Have you missed working with people while you’ve been in lockdown?
"Everyone's experienced lockdown in different ways. I’ve found I’ve got closer to people I hadn’t been in contact with for so long. I speak to my family more now than I've ever spoken to them; we speak every day now, whereas before it was maybe once every couple of days. In that way, it’s been nice to not necessarily have work to focus on but family and friends. So it's been OK, I've been one of the lucky ones."
Are you concerned about the future of entertainment and audience-based shows because of the pandemic?
"Some of the biggest shows on TV, like the soaps, are only now just trying to work out a method to manage to start filming again. I think to have no audience for entertainment shows will be a big shock to the system. We’ve just got to figure out a way to make it work for the viewers at home, which is obviously so important. It’s just about working differently."
Can we expect more In For A Penny?
"We had a meeting recently about In For A Penny and we’re having to think up games that work when you’re socially distanced and obviously I can't hug any of the contestants now, or celebrate with them when they win £1,000. We spent a whole day just brainstorming and coming up with ideas. By this point normally we'd be ready to go but it’s taking us a lot longer to work things out. But I’m so pleased Rolling In It is coming up now – people haven’t seen a new show in a long time, so it feels like we’re getting back to some kind of normality. We need to have something to watch that will give us a good laugh and Rolling In It does that."
Rolling In It begins starts on Saturday August 8 at 6.25pm on ITV.
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