Comedian Frank Skinner has launched an astonishing verbal attack on Ant and Dec, branding them “pure evil” for presenting the game show Red or Black.

Speaking on his Absolute Radio show, the 54-year-old said that the ITV1 programme – which saw contestants competing for £1m on luck instead of talent – had made him feel “very differently” about the pair.

“To me they represent pure evil,” he said. “I’m starting to think that Ant could be short for Anti-Christ and Dec may be December, you know the end of days, the dark times.

“I think they’re presiding over the death of British society,” he added.

“I don’t think any of us for one moment thought it would be the glimpse through the gates of hell that that programme has turned out to be.”

Skinner also took the opportunity to blast Simon Cowell, who created the show.

Simon Cowell has looked at the success of the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, and he thought ‘Do we need the talent part of this? Can’t we just have like 50/50 guessing’?” he said.

“I honestly think that this is a filthy, vile virus at the centre of British society that’ll bring us all down.”

Red or Black, which ran over eight nights, was the most expensive game show ever produced for British TV, and attracted controversy early on after it was revealed that the first £1m winner, Nathan Hageman, had a conviction for assaulting a former girlfriend.

Although viewing figures for the show started strongly at around the 8m but dropped to around 3.8m by the middle of its run.

Ant and Dec admitted earlier this week that the show would need improvements it it returns for a second series.