Ant and Dec feared phone scandal ‘would end careers’

TV duo Ant and Dec admitted that they thought their careers would be ended by the 2007 phone voting scandal which engulfed Saturday Night Takeaway.

Speaking on Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs Ant said the incident – in which it emerged that viewers of that show and others had been paid to enter premium rate phone competitions they stood almost no chance of winning – as ‘the worst part of our career’.

“I think our audience trust us,” he told host Kirsty Young, “and with that case we were really worried that trust had gone.”

Meanwhile Dec said he ‘couldn’t quite comprehend how it was allowed to happen’.

“We thought that probably that was it, to be honest with you, because I think the viewers would have been justified in thinking their trust had been breached,” he admitted, “and if that had been the end, I don’t think we could have had many complaints.”

ITV was eventually fined over £5m by media watchdog Ofcom in the wake of the scandal.

Meanwhile the pair – who were the first duo to appear on the radio show since Spitting Image twosome Peter Fluck and Roger Law in 1987 – also defended another of their shows, Britain’s Got Talent, over its treatment of 2009 runner-up Susan Boyle.

 “We worried about her a lot and the duty of care that they have on Britain’s Got Talent for the contestants is very high,” Ant revealed.

“There’s somebody constantly there for them – but she found it hard just being in London, being away from Scotland and so on. You’re not even putting into the mix global fame and YouTube hits and all that kind of stuff, so she did find it tough and, you know what, most people would.”