Ant and Dec
Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly met at the age of thirteen on the set of the hit BBC children’s drama, Byker Grove. Their characters, PJ and Duncan, were mates in the show and Ant & Dec soon became firm friends in real life.
In 1993 the series led to the guys signing a record contract and over the course of four years notching up fourteen top twenty hits including ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble’, Stepping Stone’ and ‘Shout’, not to mention three multi platinum albums and a shelf full of awards. British, European then World tours followed until they called time on their music career in 1997.
Alongside their music career the guys continued making TV shows. The BAFTA award winning ‘Ant & Dec Show’ ran on BBC1 for two series before they crossed to Channel 4 to make ‘Ant & Dec Unzipped’ which also won a British Academy Award.
In Autumn ’98 their own company, Ant & Dec Productions, launched SM:TV Live and CD:UK, mixing music, comedy and cartoons and co-hosted with Cat Deeley. The show won over fifteen awards, was a massive ratings hit and became the first Saturday morning show to beat the BBC in six years.
In December 2000 Ant & Dec signed an exclusive contract with ITV1 and went on to host a variety of shows alongside SM:TV & CD:UK including ‘The BRIT Awards’ and ‘Comic Relief’.
After leaving SM:TV and CD:UK at the end of 2001, the following year saw them present the BAFTA award-winning ‘Pop Idol’, the format that went on to become a world wide hit. They also returned to acting and filmed a special episode of one of Britain’s best loved sitcoms, ‘A Tribute To The Likely Lads’. In addition to this they re-wrote and recorded the official World Cup anthem for the England Football team, ‘We’re On The Ball’, which reached No.3 in the UK single charts.
In June of 2002 the lads returned to Saturday night TV when they launched a brand new prime time ITV1 show – ‘Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’, where viewers were asked not to just watch the advert breaks but also win them! The series went from strength to strength, running for nine series and picking up every award going, and is set to return in 2013.
Another major project was ‘I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out Of Here’. Launched in 2002 and based in the Australian rain forest, the two week programme proved another runaway success with Ant & Dec earning critical acclaim for their observational comedy and presentation. This has run for eleven series and continues to be a major annual event in the TV calendar.
Autumn 2005 saw the lads host ‘Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon’ as part of ITV’s 50th birthday celebrations. They also formed a new production company, Gallowgate, which co-produced the hugely successful ‘All-Star Cup’ for Sky One, a celebrity version of golf’s Ryder Cup that featured among others, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.
In summer 2005, Ant & Dec took time out from television to make their first feature film ‘Alien Autopsy’. The film, which launched in April 2006, took well over £2 million at the box office and also hit number one in the DVD/video chart in its opening week.
Following the film Ant & Dec were asked to exclusively interview Princes Charles, William and Harry for the ‘30th Anniversary celebrations of the Princes Trust’. This interview went out in over 20 countries worldwide. May 2006 saw the lads present another new format, ‘Soccer-Aid’, where a celebrity and Legend England team lead by Robbie Williams took on a ‘Rest of the World Team’ lead by Gordon Ramsey. A week long build up culminated in a three hour live final at a packed Old Trafford, which rated over a 30% share on ITV1.
2006 saw their production company Gallowgate grow from strength to strength with the commissioning of the ‘All-Star Cup’ for a 2nd run, but this time on ITV1 and with the boys presenting. The company was also commissioned by ITV to produce ‘Pokerface’, an entertainment gameshow show made by TalkBack Thames in association with Gallowgate. The show, an original idea from Ant and Dec, ran in a primetime slot and was stripped across a week in July to fantastic critical acclaim with the eventual winner taking home a staggering £1million.
The second series of ‘Pokerface’ ran on seven consecutive Saturday nights throughout February and March 2007, once again winning plaudits from all areas of the industry. The show is currently being sold around the world through Freemantle Media.
June 2007 saw the duo launch another giant entertainment format for ITV1, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. The show was billed as Britain’s search for the country's best amateur talent act, featuring singers, dancers, comedians, variety acts, and other talents of all ages, with the eventual winner receiving the opportunity to perform at the Royal Variety Performance in front of The Queen. The first series ran for nine consecutive nights drawing in massive ratings and huge praise for Ant & Dec, with the final peaking at 11.2 million viewers. In 2008 Ant & Dec hosted a second series of the hit format, with the final peaking at 60% of the viewing audience, becoming the highest rated entertainment programme of the decade alongside ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here”.
July 2007 saw the duo’s US television debut on show ‘Wanna Bet’, a new game show based on the massive German TV hit ‘Wetten Das’. The show launched on Monday 21st July on ABC.
Since their move into peak time entertainment, Ant and Dec and their shows have won a staggering fourteen National Television Awards (including Most Popular Entertainment Presenters for the last ten years in a row), six British Comedy Awards, a BAFTA’s and a variety of other industry accolades.
Ant & Dec have been signed exclusively to ITV1 in the UK for the last eleven years. In 2007 the duo re-signed to the channel securing the biggest UK TV deal in history. They have recently extended their exclusive relationship with ITV1 until 2013.
In 2008 the pair were found to be the most watched television presenters of the year in the UK. Media agency MPG found the pair were seen at least once by 51% of the UK population. Gaming giant Nintendo signed the duo in 2009 as brand ambassadors, and their TV advert featuring the boys later went on to be the second most effective ad campaign in the UK throughout 2009. That year also saw the boys release their autobiography ‘Oh What A Lovely Pair’, a No.1 Sunday Times best seller and one of the biggest selling books of the year.
After picking up two more awards at the National Television Awards, early 2010 saw the duo launch a new entertainment series ‘Push The Button’. Produced by Gallowgate, the show returned for a second run in Spring 2011.
Later in 2011 Ant & Dec launched another new game show format for ITV1 Red or Black?. It gave ordinary people across the UK the chance to become millionaires. Starting in their thousands participants were asked to take on challenges & guess correctly the 50/50 outcome Red or Black. The show was stripped over 7 nights and each night 1 person had the chance of winning the jackpot prize of £1 million. Broadcast in September 2011, 4 people walked away with the £1 million.
Just before Christmas 2011, and following on from the 11th series of ‘I’m Celebrity get me out of here’, ITV1 launched ‘Text Santa’, a new entertainment show which raised awareness and money for those most vulnerable during the festive period. Ant & Dec co-hosted the show along with Philip Schofield, Christine Bleakley and Holly Willoughby which comprised of fun and games with celebrity guests and members of the public who have done amazing work and fundraising for UK charities.
Ant & Dec are currently filming the 12th series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!