Paul Merton has welcomed diversity in comedy and said wit is not the preserve of one class or race.

The Have I Got News For You star said there has been an increase in stage time for a broader range of voices.

Merton has welcomed the rise of diverse talent in comedy, and said that being funny is the only thing that matters on stage.

The comedian has said that comedy is also less male-dominated than it used to be.

Merton on Just A Minute
Merton has examined his family history (Yui Mok/PA)

He said: “I think that’s a good thing. Anybody has got the ability to make people laugh.

“With comedy you can’t fake it, you’re either funny or you’re not

“Good comedy does not belong to any particular class or race.”

He added: “It’s also about stage time. Maybe sort of 20 odd years ago, it might be more difficult for female comics come through – atmospheres in dressing rooms, very male, whatever it might be.

“But once you start to see a few, then that encourages others.”

Merton has filmed for the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are?, having previously turned down the opportunity to star on the show following the protests of his parents.

After the passing of his parents, the comedian decided to revisit his family history.

Merton said he welcomed the change from comedy, and the chance to take part in a serious programme – as well as the chance to be seen outside the Have I Got News For You studio.

He said: “It was nice to get up from behind a desk and walk around

“You are taking the thing rather seriously. You’re kind of the stand-in for the audience.”