Ant and Dec suffer Saturday night takeout…from viewers! Millions walk out of the latest series of the Geordie duo’s ITV variety show with the lowest ratings since its launch in 2002
For over two decades, the Geordie duo have been the undisputed kings of primetime television. But it seems viewers have had enough of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, and millions have abandoned their new series for Saturday Night Takeaway.
Viewership figures for the first episode, which aired late last month, were the lowest since the variety show launched on ITV in 2002, with an average viewership of 4.9 million. Worse still for the cheerful duo, who dropped another 500,000 for the second episode on March 4.
It means they have lost almost a third of their audience since 7.3 million tuned in for the opening episode two years ago, which then fell to 5.7 million in 2022.
At Saturday Night Takeaway’s peak popularity, in March 2020, it drew 11.1 million viewers. ITV pundits were stunned by the loss, with some blaming “fatigue and a tired format”.
It comes just weeks after And and Dec, who have been named presenters of the year for 21 years running, signed a three-year ‘golden wives’ deal with ITV believed to be worth more than £30m. The contract means they will celebrate 25 years with the station.
Viewers seem to have had enough of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly (pictured with Alison Hammond, Jordan North, Stephen Mulhern, David Tennant and Andi Peters) in Saturday Night Takeaway
Viewership figures for the first episode of the couple’s show, which aired late last month, were the lowest since the show launched on ITV in 2002.
ITV sources say bosses were thought to be keen to finalize the contract after interest from Netflix and Amazon Prime.
While ITV is a celebrity… Get me out of here! – also hosted by Ant and Dec – remains popular and drew over nine million viewers during last year’s series, there are fears that Britain’s Got Talent – another show the pair fronts – will not have strong ratings when be broadcast later. this year.
The couple also host a quiz show, Ant And Dec’s Limitless Win.
One theory behind the drastic drop in popularity is believed to be the drink-driving conviction of Mr McPartlin in 2018 after he crashed his Mini into two cars in Richmond, south-west London, leaving an injured child. The 48-year-old star was banned from driving for 20 months and fined £86,000. He then checked into rehab and took a break from work, leaving Donnelly, 47, to host the Saturday Night Takeaway finale by himself for the first time.
Around the same time, McPartlin separated from his wife of 12 years, Lisa Armstrong. The couple later divorced, and he married his personal assistant in 2021.
An ITV spokesman said: “It was the biggest show of the day, ahead of Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel on the same day by three million viewers.”
He added that Saturday Night Takeaway had ITV1’s biggest audience among 16-34 year-olds so far this year.