Ant & Dec

Ant & Dec
Born Anthony David McPartlin:
18 November 1975 (1975-11-18) (age 35)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Declan Joseph Oliver Donnelly:
25 September 1975 (1975-09-25) (age 36)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Nationality English
Occupation TV presenters, actors
Years active 1988–present
Ant & Dec in 2009

Anthony "Ant" McPartlin (born 18 November 1975) and Declan "Dec" Donnelly (born 25 September 1975), known collectively as Ant & Dec, are an English comedy and TV presenting duo from Newcastle upon Tyne, England.[1] The duo first rose to fame as actors on the children's television show Byker Grove, during which and in their subsequent pop career they were respectively known as PJ & Duncan - the names of the characters they played on the show. Since then, Ant & Dec have had a very successful career as TV presenters, presenting shows such as SMTV Live, Friends Like These, Pop Idol, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Push the Button, PokerFace and Britain's Got Talent. They have also returned to acting, starring in a 2002 Tribute to The Likely Lads and the 2006 film Alien Autopsy.

Ant is the taller of the two at 5'8" (1.73 m) and Dec is two inches shorter at 5'6" (1.68 m). It is a running joke that many people do not know who is Ant and who is Dec, even though their appearances differ significantly. To assist with identification, they follow the 180 degree rule; all their TV appearances and publicity photos have Ant on the left and Dec on the right, but even this does not help everyone. This was started early in their stint on Byker Grove, and was carried through every video and performance of their musical career, and also affected the wedding structures of both Ant & Dec.



Anthony McPartlin was born on 18 November 1975[2] and Declan Donnelly was born on 25 September 1975.[2] They met each other while working on the BBC children's drama Byker Grove in 1989. After a shaky start,[3] they soon became best friends.[3] They have achieved such popularity as a duo that they are hardly ever seen apart on screen. Indeed, it is reported that they are each insured against the other's death, although the amount is unknown.[4] Their inseparability has led to them receiving joint nominations for many awards.



Although Ant had built some television experience with a brief stint on the children's television series Why Don't You?, which was broadcast on the BBC, Dec was the first of the two to acquire his place on the BBC children's drama Byker Grove. He joined in 1989, playing Duncan. A year later, Ant joined the cast playing PJ. Their friendship began when their storylines collided, creating a friendship off screen as well as on.[5] Dec also played a stable boy in the adaptation of the novel The Cinder Path in his teenage years.[6]


After leaving television, the duo turned their hand to pop music. Their first single was a song they performed while part of Byker Grove, entitled "Tonight I'm Free". The single had some success, and the duo went on to record two albums under their character names of PJ & Duncan. Later songs included "Why Me?", "If I Give You My Number", "Eternal Love" "Our Radio Rocks", "U Krazy Katz" and a cover of the The Monkees classic "Stepping Stone". Their most famous hit during this period was the BRIT Award nominated "Let's Get Ready To Rhumble", for which the video was choreographed by Mark Short, who had previously worked with Tina Turner and Peter Andre. For their third album, the duo reinvented themselves under their real names of Ant & Dec. The album featured their signature single "Shout". Their final single release was "Falling", which was the track that subsequently ended their musical career. The track was pulled from the British charts under the instruction of their record label, Telstar Records, after claims of copyright infringement were made, brought about by a pop duo, 'And all because...', who were also managed by Ant and Dec's management team. The duo claimed that Ant & Dec had stolen the song from them and released it without their consent. Subsequently, Telstar Records decided not to renew their existing contract, and they were dropped from the label. During their time, the pair released sixteen singles and three studio albums, however, none of their releases managed to reach number one, with their highest UK chart position being #3. The duo did, however, reach the top ten in Germany and Japan, and even had a number-one single in Germany, with their cover of the Everly Brothers' "All I Have To Do Is Dream". Success also struck in other European countries. The duo had a short lived revival in the music industry, releasing a song for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, entitled "We're On The Ball". The track peaked at #3,[7] being beaten by Will Young and Gareth Gates, who ironically were the winner and runner-up of Pop Idol, a show which the duo presented.


Children's television

Ant & Dec got their first presenting job in 1994, while they were still releasing music under the alias of PJ & Duncan. They co-presented a Saturday-morning children's show entitled Gimme 5, which was broadcast on CITV. The show only lasted two series before being dropped from the airwaves.[8] In 1995, the duo were once again offered a job on CBBC, this time presenting their own series, entitled The Ant & Dec Show. The series was broadcast from 1995 to 1997, and in 1996, Ant & Dec won two BAFTA Awards, one for 'Best Children's Show' and one for 'Best Sketch Comedy Show'.[9] In 1997, a VHS release, entitled The Ant & Dec Show - Confidential, was made available in shops, and featured an hour of the best bits from three years of the programme, as well as specially recorded sketches and music videos.[10] In 1998, the duo switched to Channel 4, presenting a early-evening children's show entitled Ant & Dec Unzipped.[11] This show also won a BAFTA, but was dropped from the airwaves after just one series.[12] ITV soon signed the duo in August 1998,[13] and within weeks, were assigned to present ITV1's Saturday morning programmes SMTV Live and CD:UK, alongside old friend Cat Deeley. The duo presented the shows alongside Deeley for three years, before making their permanent departure from children's television in 2001. Two VHS releases, compiling the best bits from both shows, were released in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The pair also starred in the children's TV series Engie Benjy during their time on SMTV.[14][15]


The duo's first primetime presenting job came in the form of BBC Saturday-night game show Friends Like These, which was first broadcast in 1999. The duo presented four series of the programme between 1999 and 2001.[16] In 2001, the duo's contract with ITV was renewed for a further three years, following their appearances on SM:TV Live and CD:UK, and received their first primetime presenting job on the station, presenting brand new Saturday night reality series Pop Idol. The series was broadcast for two series only, and was replaced in 2004 by The X Factor, to which Kate Thornton was assigned presenting duties. In August of the same year, the duo were also assigned to their own game show, entitled Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. The show ran for nine series, broadcast between 2002 and 2009. During the fourth series, Dec broke his arm, thumb and suffered a concussion whilst completing a challenge for the 'Ant Vs. Dec' segment of the show. The incident involved learning how to ride a motorbike and jumping through a ring of fire. During the challenge, Dec failed to pull hard enough on the throttle of the bike, causing it to topple over and sending him flying through the air. The accident caused the pair to miss the Comic Relief charity telethon of 2005. In 2006, the first episode of series five saw the duo absail down the side of the 22-storey high London Studios, where the show was filmed. Two DVDs, a best-bits book and a board game of the series were released during 2004. In May 2002, the duo took the helm of a further reality series, entitled I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. The series has been broadcasting on ITV1 since 2002, and ten series have been broadcast. The duo drew their highest viewing figures to date while presenting the series in February 2004, with nearly 15 million tuning in to watch the climax of the third series. In May 2006, the duo were assigned to present coverage of the charity football match Soccer Aid. The duo were then invited back to present coverage of the second match in September 2007, and have since presented coverage of each yearly match.[17] In June 2006, the duo announced they had created a new game-show format for ITV1, entitled PokerFace. The show featured members of the public gambling high stakes of money in an attempt to win the ultimate prize. The first series began airing on 10 July 2006, and was aired for seven consecutive nights. The second series was broadcast in early 2007, and saw a move to a prime-time Saturday slot. Ratings for the series fell to below 3.5 million, and the series was subsequently axed in March 2007. A board game of the format was released in 2008. In April 2007, the duo signed a two-year golden handcuffs deal with ITV, reportedly worth £40 million, securing the duo's career at the station until the end of 2009.[18] In June 2007, the duo were offered the job of presenters on new ITV reality platform Britain's Got Talent by Simon Cowell. The series features contestants aiming to win £100,000 and spot on the bill at the Royal Variety Show, while performing and being judged by Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. The series was highly successful, drawing in nearly 12 million viewers. A second series was broadcast in May 2008, and drew in nearly 14.5 million viewers.[19] The duo have since returned to present three further series of the show, and have also had a regular feature on the ITV2 spin-off show Britain's Got More Talent. The pair filmed a series of six episodes for a new American game show, Wanna Bet?, in November 2007. The episodes was broadcast in 2008, but failed to attract enough interest for a second series to be commissioned.[20] What You Wrote, another format created by the duo, was due to air in Autumn 2008 but was reportedly axed by ITV.[21] In 2010, the duo debuted a replacement for their previous Saturday-night game show format, Saturday Night Takeaway, entitled Ant & Dec's Push the Button. The series was a success, and a second run of the programme was broadcast in 2011. A third series has been commissioned for 2012.

Other activities

In April 2008, it was reported that Ant & Dec's production company, Gallowgate Productions, had purchased the rights to Byker Grove and SMTV Live, after the production companies that made them, Zenith Entertainment and Blaze Television, had both gone bankrupt in 2007. According to reports, the duo decided to purchase the rights to stop digital channels showing repeats of the programmes.[22] On 28 September 2008, it was reported that the pair were attacked by the Taliban whilst in Afghanistan to present a Pride Of Britain Award.[23] In December 2008, the duo starred in a seasonal advert, their first in seven years, for the supermarket chain Sainsbury's. The duo appeared alongside chef Jamie Oliver.[24] In March 2009, the duo filmed a short film for inclusion on Comic Relief, which highlighted their story upon visiting a community centre for young carers in the North East. In September 2009, the duo released their official autobiography, entitled "Ooh! What a Lovely Pair. Our Story".[25] In October 2010, the duo appeared in several Nintendo adverts playing both the Wii[26] and Nintendo DS.[27]


In 1997, Welsh pop duo 'And all because...' successfully obtained legal aid and filed legal papers against Ant & Dec, along with their management team, record company and producers for copyright infringement over the song "Falling", and this was subsequently Ant & Dec's last single.

Law firm Olswang were commissioned to investigate the 2005 British Comedy Awards when the producers overturned the voting public's first choice, The Catherine Tate Show in favour of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway for the People's Choice Award. The incident is also the subject of an investigation by media regulator Ofcom.[28][29]

Following allegations of fraud in 2007, an investigation by auditors Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu discovered that two shows, Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, had defrauded viewers participating in phone-ins. The programmes were subject to a further investigation by Ofcom which found that between January 2003 and October 2006 Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway had:[29][30]

  • selected competition finalists before the telephone lines were announced as closed
  • staggered the selection of competition finalists which meant that viewers entering the competition did not have a fair and equal chance of winning
  • selected finalists on the basis of their suitability to be on television and where they lived
  • selected an individual already known to the production team to be placed on the shortlist of potential winners and who went on to win the competition

and between September and October 2005, Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon had:

  • on six occasions in the Prize Mountain competition, selected winners based on their suitability to be on screen
  • failed to account for almost half of the competition entries

One episode of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! was also found to be in breach of Ofcom rules.

The pair were ridiculed for their alleged participation in the fraud on the front cover of the satirical magazine Private Eye.[31]

On 10 September 2008, Ant & Dec announced that the frauds "will never happen again", insisting that a high-tech system and strict rules will ensure viewers cannot lose out with poorly monitored premium rate phone lines.[32]

On 30 September 2008, it was reported that Ant & Dec were being sued for $30 million by Greek American stand-up comedian and actor ANT for using "his" name in the United States. The lawsuit, among other things, alleges trademark infringement and fraud.[33]

In October 2009, Kelly Brook claimed that Ant & Dec had been the cause of her removal as the fourth judge on Britain's Got Talent. She claimed that she was asked to leave the show after she upset the pair.[34]


They have, albeit infrequently, returned to acting. They played themselves in the film Love Actually[35] (in which Bill Nighy's character referred to Dec as "Ant or Dec"). They have returned to their Geordie roots in a one-off tribute to The Likely Lads[36] and also by returning to Byker Grove for Geoff's funeral.[37][38]

In 1998, the pair starred in the pantomime Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at Sunderland's Empire Theatre alongside Donnelly's partner at the time Clare Buckfield. The show was financially unsuccessful, making £20,000 less than it cost to stage, with the duo footing a large share of the shortfall.[39]

Al Burton, creator of the American gameshow Win Ben Stein's Money, had approached Ant & Dec's talent agency with a proposal for a new reality television show entitled Ant & Dec Get Killed (after the film Penn & Teller Get Killed), in which the two scheme to murder one another, framed with a lighthearted soundtrack and canned laughter. Burton received negative public reaction and narrowly escaped being charged with several accounts of premeditated murder in British courts, and Ant & Dec refused the offer from the talent agency.[40]

Ant & Dec's most recent acting appearance was in the film Alien Autopsy released in April 2006.[41] The film gained mixed reviews about the storyline but the pair received generally good reviews for their acting abilities.


In 2005, as part of the ITV Network's 50th birthday celebrations, they were back on television fronting Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, a celebration of some of ITV's most enduring gameshows from the past 50 years.

In 2006, a celebration to the show Spitting Image saw Ant and Dec having their own puppets made. They have also been made into cartoon characters on the comedy show 2DTV, and face masks in Avid Merrion's Bo Selecta. Wax works of the duo can also be seen in London's Madame Tussauds.

In September 2006, they were voted by the general public as number 7 in a poll of TV's 50 Greatest Stars.[42]


  • Brit Award Nomination - Best Song: "Let's Get Ready to Rhumble"[43]


  • Most Popular Entertainment Presenter (SMTV Live)


  • Most Popular Entertainment Presenter (Pop Idol)
  • National Television Awards: Special Recognition Award


  • Most Popular Entertainment presenter (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)[44]
  • Most Popular Entertainment program (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)
  • Most Popular Reality Programme (I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!)


  • Most Popular Entertainment presenter (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)
  • Most Popular Entertainment programme (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)


  • Most Popular Entertainment presenter (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)


  • Most Popular Quiz Programme (Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon)[45]
  • Most Popular Entertainment presenter (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)
  • British Comedy Awards: Best Comedy Entertainment Personality[46]
  • British Comedy Awards: Best Comedy Entertainment Programme[47]


  • Most Popular Entertainment presenter (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)
  • Most Popular Entertainment program (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)
  • Most Popular Reality Programme (I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!)



  • TV Quick & TV Choice Awards: Best Entertainment Show (Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway)
  • TV Quick & TV Choice Awards:Outstanding Contribution Award[51]



List of television appearances

As presenters

Television advertisements

Television idents

  • ITV1 "Celebrities" idents (3 idents, 2002)
  • ITV1 "Abstract celebrities" idents (5 idents, 2003)


  1. ^ BBC Tyne People
  2. ^ a b Ant and Dec - Biography of Ant and Dec
  3. ^ a b BBC Tyne - Ant & Dec
  4. ^ Ant & Death
  5. ^ Ant and Dec Biography
  6. ^ IMDb listing for The Cinder Path
  7. ^ World Cup Archive
  8. ^ IMDB Gimme 5 Cast &
  9. ^ Past Winners and Nominees - Children's 1996
  10. ^ IMDB - The Ant & Dec Show
  11. ^ IMDB - Ant & Dec Unzipped
  12. ^ Past Winners and Nominees - Children's 1998
  13. ^ - Geordie duo sign new ITV contract
  14. ^ Ant McPartlin (Alien Autopsy, A History Of Tyneside, Engie Benjy - Let's Go Team - Episodes 7 To 13 and Engie Benjy - Makes Things Better!)
  15. ^ Declan Donnelly (A History Of Tyneside, Alien Autopsy, Engie Benjy - Let's Go Team - Episodes 7 To 13 and Engie Benjy - Makes Things Better!)
  16. ^ IMDB - Friends Like These Cast
  17. ^ Soccer Aid - Coming soon
  18. ^ Ant and Dec at ITV until 2009
  19. ^ Manchester Evening News - Britain's Got Talent wins ratings war
  20. ^ Howdy there, Geordie lads!
  21. ^ Ant & Dec ITV Sunday Axe
  22. ^ "Ant & Dec go to Buy-ker Grove?". The Sun. 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  23. ^ Ant and Dec attacked by the Taliban in Afghanistan
  24. ^ Sainsbury's Christmas ad marks Ant and Dec's first commercial in seven years
  25. ^ Ant and Dec | Ooh! What A Lovely Pair! Available to pre-order now!
  26. ^ Ant & Dec - Nintendo Wii & DS Advertisement - an Analysis
  27. ^ Ant & Dec with London Cabbies - Nintendo DS Brain Training Advertisement - an Analysis
  28. ^ Gibson, Owen (9 May 2008). "And the winners aren't ... Ant and Dec". London: The Guardian. 
  29. ^ a b "Ofcom fines ITV plc for misconduct in viewer competitions and voting" (Press release). Ofcom. 8 May 2008. 
  30. ^ Jefferies, Mark; Nicola Methven (2007-10-19). "Saturday Night FAKEAWAY". Daily Mirror. 
  31. ^ "Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Your Money!". Private Eye. 2007-10-26. 
  32. ^ Ant and Dec: No rip-offs
  33. ^ Ant and Dec sued for $30m by American 'Ant', who claims the Brits are ruining his career
  34. ^ Kelly Brook: Ant and Dec ruined my TV career
  35. ^ Love Actually (2003) - Full Cast & Crew
  36. ^ The Likely Lads
  37. ^ BBC Press Office - Byker Grove to close its doors after seventeen years
  38. ^ PJ & Duncan Return
  39. ^ You're Earning A Panto Fortune - Oh Yes You Are Amanda Kelly, Daily Mirror, 7 November 1999
  40. ^ Luke Ford. "Lukeford blog entry on Al Burton". Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  41. ^ Alien Autopsy (2006)
  42. ^ TV's 50 Greatest Stars
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Ant and Dec win trio of TV awards". BBC News. 15 October 2002. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^ Television - News - British Comedy Awards 2006: The Winners - Digital Spy
  48. ^ TV Awards 2008
  49. ^ "Ant and Dec top children's awards". BBC News. 14 September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  50. ^
  51. ^ Ant and Dec's Award Surprise

External links

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