As Britain’s Got Talent 2014 nears its climax, its flag-flying presenters are preparing to set aside their summer holidays – and the golf dates which come with them – for what may be the most challenging thing they’ve ever done.
(I’m not including the windmill arm spin on Ready to Rhumble, obviously.)
Once the final of the popular ITV1 talent show and its associated ‘wrap’ party have come and gone, Geordie treasures (the nation can borrow them, but we know where their hearts lie) Ant and Dec will be giving their full attention to a full-on arena tour of their smash hit entertainment show, Saturday Night Takeaway.
Having brought it back in 2013 after a four-year break, the duo of jewels in ITV’s crowd-pulling crown were royally rewarded last week when the comeback series bagged them a couple of Bafta Awards... each.
Perhaps even more impressively, the pair, who met on the set of Newcastle-based children’s drama Byker Grove more than 25 years ago (a landmark date which saw them given a special National TV Award earlier this year) managed to make it to a charity golf tournament at Graham Wylie’s Close House Hotel in Northumberland the next morning.
“And we’re still on cloud nine,” says Dec. “When we got that first award, we were like, ‘Lovely, we’ll take that and get home’. We never thought we’d get two in one night.
“We’ve been nominated before a few times and hadn’t walked away with that many, so we never in a million years would have dreamt that we’d do the double.
“When the second one came, it was incredible. We’ve been flying ever since.”
Ant adds: “With resting the show for four years, we knew when we brought it back we had to work on new ideas and try some new stuff out. To get the Bafta for the first series back was extra special.
“It confirmed what we thought about the show and how hard people had worked on it.”
“Bringing it back wasn’t without risk,” says Dec. “But we couldn’t have asked for any more from all the people who work on it. The Baftas gave everyone a boost, especially with us just about to go on tour.”
They both laugh heartily at my suggestion that attempting to transfer the magic of the TV show to the stage for a whopping 34 dates, including five at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and three at London’s O2, sounds like an absolute nightmare. “You’ve hit the nail on the head,” says Dec.
“There have been a few challenges,” adds Ant in a manner which suggests that for ‘few’ you should read ‘loads of massive’.
“But we really wanted to bring all the big stuff that people love about the TV show to the tour – otherwise what’s the point?”
So that’s exactly what they’ll be doing. On Friday, the 38-year-old ‘boys’ revealed some more details about what audiences could expect from the tour, starting with a couple of special guest announcements in the form of former Pussy Cat Doll Ashley Roberts and the cast of Riverdance.
While Saturday Night Takeaway regular Ashley will be presiding over the new audience participation version of the Ant v Dec challenge – and singing a song or two herself – Riverdance will be helping to make every tour date’s End of the Show Show more than memorable. “I couldn’t possibly say whether we’ll be joining them,” laughs Ant.
In other news, audiences will be thrilled to hear a team of researchers are already scouring the private lives of ticket holders, determined to spring some fantastic surprises – and the odd slice of good-natured revenge – on unsuspecting members of the crowd.
And then of course there will be the live tour version of the Takeaway strapline: “Don’t just watch the adverts… (altogether now) WIN THEM!”
“One member of the audience will be playing Win the Ads every show,” says Dec, “which I think is pretty special. I can’t think of another live show where you have the chance of going home with a new 12 grand car or a two-and-a-half grand, all-inclusive holiday, as well as all the other prizes. We can’t wait to get out there.”
And one would imagine the five shows which have been booked for the Metro Radio Arena in September will have been highlighted in a special colour on the boys’ kitchen wall-planner? (Part of me will always believe they are living in Morecambe and Wise’s old flatshare). “Of course,” says Ant. “That’s our home crowd.”
“They were the most important dates to get booked,” says Dec. “We always want to know when we’re coming home.”
Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on Tour comes to the Metro Radio Arena from September 5 to 7. For tickets, call 0844 493 6666 or visit www.metroradioarena.co.uk.
For more information, including how to nominate someone for a surprise or set them up in the name of family entertainment, visit itv.com/takeawayontour
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