Veteran presenters Ant & Dec talk exclusively to TV Times magazine about getting back to what they do best on ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway…

Are you excited to be back presenting Saturday Night Takeaway?
Ant: “We’re SO excited! We stopped in 2009, but we’ve always said that we’d come back with Takeaway. We’ve been working on it for quite a while now and we just want to get on air.”
Dec: “I think what’s thrilled us even more is seeing how excited viewers are now the promotional trailers have started on ITV. We’ve had an avalanche of people saying to us: ‘Oh my God, we can’t wait for Takeaway to start’.”

What familiar favourites are returning?
Dec: “It’s been a fine balance to strike between bringing back the old stuff and giving it a fresh twist. Of course we’re bringing back Win The Ads, which is the spine of the whole show. We’re also bringing back the Ant Vs Dec challenge – which is a competition between the two of us – as it’s always been very popular.”

Ant, after losing every challenge before, will you finally beat Dec?
Ant: “I really hope so! I’ve been close before in previous series and it’s come down to a decider so many times. And I always mess it up at the end! I never get across that finishing line. In this series the production team will be surprising us with the challenges on the night, so I can’t even put in any extra practice.”
Dec: (giggling) “He’s never had quite enough in the challenges. He’s always just come up a little short, which is ironic seeing he’s slightly taller than me!”

People love Little Ant & Dec, will they be back?
Ant: “They’re older now and to be honest with you they’re so tall that we look like Little Ant & Dec standing next to them!”
Dec: “People are always asking us: ‘How old are they now? What are they doing?’ So we’re bringing them back in the first show to see how their lives have changed. They might even help us hunt for a new Little Ant & Dec.”

What’s new about this series?
Dec: “The new elements include a hidden camera section where we get celebrities involved and they wear an earpiece so we can tell them what to say to members of the public. It’s called ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Out of My Ear!’ We’ve already shot one of those with Louis Walsh and it’s hilarious! The other new big idea is that we’re going to have a huge finale at the end of every show featuring a star guest and we’ll perform with them.”

Any star guests lined up?
Dec: “We’re friends with Robbie Williams and he’s coming on the first show, which we are very excited about. We haven’t seen him since he became a dad, so we’re looking forward to catching up with him.”
Ant: “He’ll be a part of the big finale. It will be great.”

Are you still doing Ant & Dec Undercover?
Ant: “Yes we are. We’ve done a couple already where we’ve fooled celebrities by putting on prosthetic make-up.”
Dec: “We like dressing up!”
Ant: “Yes, but it’s hard because it takes hours to get the make-up on and nearly as long to get off. But once you’re in it all it really changes you. One of my favourite Undercovers was when we flew to America and auditioned for American Idol in front of Simon Cowell. He claims he guessed it was us, but he didn’t have a clue!”

Do you enjoy making this show more than any other?
Ant: “We do also have a lot of fun on I’m A Celebrity…because it’s nightly and you can’t really prepare for it. But this show is kind of our baby. We’re heavily involved in the production side of it, coming up with ideas, and it’s very much our sense of humour. It’s in the style of shows we enjoyed growing up.”
Dec: “Things like Game For a Laugh, Beadle’s About, Russ Abbot’s Madhouse and Noel’s House Party.”
Ant: “And also Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush with Chris Evans. We’re massive fans of all of those shows.”

We’ve heard rumours you’re making a silent comedy series?
Ant: “Yes, it’s something that we’ve been developing over the last year. We’ve always loved that genre.”
Dec: “We both started talking about it at the same time. We’ve fleshed out a few characters and we’ve already shot a couple of scenes. It’s been fun and we’re going to do some more work on it, maybe over the summer.”

What’s next?
Ant: “We’re about to head to the Birmingham auditions for Britain’s Got Talent and then later in the year we’ll be in Australia for I’m A Celebrity…”

Finally, if you could be a contestant on a game show,  past or present, which one would it be?
Ant: “I really want to do a trolley dash like they used to do in Supermarket Sweep!”
Dec: “That would be a lot of fun!”

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway returns on February 23 at 7pm on ITV.