Ant and Dec reveal what's new in the return of Saturday Night Takeaway and why they’re always nervous hosting the live show…
What with I’m a Celebrity and Britain’s Got Talent, Ant and Dec are used to hosting live shows. Plus they’re consummate professionals, so you’d think that fronting their long-running hit show Saturday Night Takeaway would be a breeze for them.
That’s why it comes as a surprise to discover that Takeaway, as they like to refer to it, is the show that makes the presenting duo most on edge!
“We’re more nervous doing the live Takeaway shows than anything else,” reveals Dec. “It’s because you really don’t know what’s going to happen next!”
As this year’s series is set to be their biggest and best, with a host of new celebrity guests, more surprises and the biggest ever prize giveaway on British TV, there’s even more at stake! Here Ant and Dec, both 44, reveal more…
You took a year off with the show last year, so are you coming back with a bang this time?
Ant: “Yes, we both said we want this one to be the best ever and so far things are looking good. I hope we can achieve it. But funnily enough we’re always nervous with Takeaway because there’s always so much going on. One minute you’re singing and dancing, the next minute you’re abseiling down the building, after that we might be surprised by Stephen Mulhern or doing an audience surprise. You’re kind of doing several jobs. It’s like you’re a ringmaster!”
You’re both used to live TV, though…
Dec: “But we’re always making changes to the show up until the last minute – we’re always losing bits or adding bits. We’ve also had times where we’ve planned an elaborate surprise for someone and they haven’t even turned up to the studio and suddenly we’ve got eight minutes to fill!”
Ant: “Or we’ve gone live to someone’s house and they’re not there! Or they’ve sat in the wrong seats. That’s happened loads of times. You have to keep an eye on them and check they haven’t gone off for a loo break!”
Is there anything you’ve wanted to do on the show you’re finally doing this time?
Dec: “Yes, there’s a hidden camera prank on a celebrity, which we’re very excited about. Getting to this person is very difficult – you need an in! Agents invariably say no, so you have to try other ways to go about it. Sometimes we’ve got to play the long game.”
Ant: “And with this one we’ve had to play a very long game! But we never want the hit to know. It’s always better if it’s a genuine surprise.”
The day Ant and Dec wound up Gordon Ramsay…
Do you ever worry you’ll catch someone on a bad day?
Ant: “When we did Gordon Ramsay it was the closest we’ve ever come to being punched! He vowed to get us back. Now every time something goes wrong with one of our shows we think it’s Ramsay. It’ll come – it’s just when!”
Dec: “David Walliams always approaches us every year just to be in the show somewhere. He’s like ‘What am I doing this year?’ We have to find a role for him, he insists on it, otherwise he’ll get us in a headlock! But asking to do an Undercover would defeat the object!”
We hear The Honoured is back. Tell us about that…
Dec: “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, so that’s coming back. Because we got our OBEs we’re now part of The Honoured, the secret society that looks after Britain’s security. This year we’ve been called in for some intergalactic security to battle aliens that are planning to invade Earth and give everybody the squits!”
Stephen Mulhern has his own show with In For A Penny now, so will we still see him on Takeaway?
Dec: “Yes, Stephen’s flown the nest with In For A Penny, but it will return later in the series for a special.”
Ant: ‘And Stephen will feature in the show quite heavily. He never fails to surprise us with his costumes and stupidity. We let him run with things, especially when it comes to Ant vs Dec. We don’t want to know what’s going on. Foolishly we just let him do it, but he does like to try and steal the show as you’ve seen!’
What can you reveal about this year’s show finale?
Dec: “We’re taking the audience abroad with us again and this time we’re taking more people than we’ve ever taken before. It’s officially been confirmed by the show’s lawyers as the biggest ever giveaway on British television. It’s a very, very big prize!”
If you could be in any other TV show what would it be?
Ant: “The Crown would be a good one.”
Dec: “I think I could be Tony Blair. I could do that in the later series of The Crown. Michael Sheen has done it but I think we could have a new take on Blair. And Ant could be Gordon Brown. I’m going to start a petition!”
Tell us about the new segment on the show called Don’t Feed the Pandas?
Ant: “We’ve always wanted to do a surprise element with kids because their reactions are so sweet and charming. So basically we dressed up as London Zoo pandas called Howai and Wayai and set up our own panda enclosure, and then these pandas suddenly start talking to the kids. It’s just magic. The whole idea is, will the kids talk back?”
Dec: “Most of them don’t – spoiler alert! But it’s really cute to see. We had the most amazing panda outfits and prosthetics!”
* Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway starts on ITV on Saturday 22 February at 7pm.