Stephen Mulhern says his game show In For A Penny is more important than ever because laughter is “the best form of medicine” in difficult times.

The ITV programme, which was born out of a segment on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, sees the presenter travelling the country challenging members of the public to take part in a variety of games.

Anyone wishing to get involved has to hand over a penny to Mulhern, 44, giving the show its name.

Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly (Matt Crossick/PA)

He told the PA news agency: “Listen, if you didn’t enjoy doing this show, you would have to go, because I know it’s not down the mines, or it’s not saving people’s lives, but it is delivering laughter and they say it’s the best form of medicine. And I do believe that.

“No matter how tough stuff is, if you can have a laugh or a joke, or if you can cheer somebody up, it does take your mind off stuff.

“The show is only a half-hour, but it’s a half-hour just to escape whatever you need to escape from. And as long as we can keep doing that, and that will be a dream.”

The programme’s format has had to change due to coronavirus restrictions, with Mulhern introducing a variety of new games, but filming still allowed him to meet members of the public.

He said: “Doing a show like In For A Penny, when you are out and about – we record over a period of six weeks – and you just hear what people honestly think about stuff.

“We get quite eccentric people on the show, and we get very sensible people on the show, and we get every walk of life on the show.

“But the good thing about it is that everybody’s quite honest. And also hearing what the people that watch the shows that you’re part of, actually do enjoy. So it’s good.”

In For A Penny starts on Saturday April 17.