Ant and Dec have revealed how they almost quit Britain’s Got Talent.
The following quotes are from their new autobiography Once Upon A Tyne, which is released on 3rd September.
Dec: “A couple of hours after we arrive at the theatre, we focus on one of the key elements of any BGT audition day: waiting for Simon Cowell to turn up. Once we’ve got started on that, we’ll often film interviews with some of that day’s acts, then have a bit of food, then get back to waiting for Simon."
Simon, contributing to the book: “They used to have a real issue with me being late and it used to drive them nuts.”
Ant: “We’ve still got a real issue with him being late and it still drives us nuts.”
“It was on a trip to America, in 2012, where we had to have a serious conversation with Simon. The previous series of BGT had been especially tricky for us two. The audition days had been very long, which in itself we don’t mind, but after filming interviews and interacting with every single act, as well as making jokes, giving reactions and everything else we always do, we found that when the show went out on TV, we hardly seemed to feature in it at all."
“We began to feel that we were wasting our time doing the auditions because all the footage of the work we were doing was ending up on the cutting-room floor. And, what’s more, with Saturday Night Takeaway about to come back into our schedule, we could have been putting our efforts into that in January, when the auditions happen. The experience left us feeling like we were being sidelined.”
Dec: “We’d been to see the bosses at ITV and told them we were strongly considering leaving BGT. At that stage, it felt like it may as well have been anyone hosting the show and we said that when our current contract expired, we thought it was time to move on. This isn’t something we’re in the habit of doing and they aren’t easy conversations to have, but we felt like honesty was the best policy. I remember waking up in Birmingham on the last day of the 2012 tour, opening my curtains and thinking, ‘Well, this is the last time I’ll be doing this’.”
Ant: “The ITV bosses told Simon about the conversation we’d had with them and he asked to meet. We agreed to catch up with him in LA to talk about it. We’ve always had a lot of respect for him and, whatever happened, we wanted to talk to him face to face.”
Dec: “The three of us went to a restaurant in West Hollywood called Ceconni’s and we sat outside, partly so we could soak up the glorious Californian sunshine, but mainly so Simon could smoke. And it’s worth mentioning that Simon was only one minute late for that meeting, which for him is the equivalent of being three days early. The three of us sat down and me and Ant went either side of him, so we could do the full pincer movement. He started by saying how he’d thought the last series was amazing, how well it had gone, how pleased he was with the talent, and then he asked us how it had been from our side.”
Ant: “And then we let him have it with both barrels. We told him everything — that we weren’t being used, that we could be doing other stuff, that maybe someone else should take over. To be fair to Simon, he sat there, took it all and listened intently for four, maybe five cigarettes.”
Dec says: “He made a promise to us: that things would change and that we’d never feel like that again. He desperately wanted us to stay and we told him we’d do the next series and see how it went — and, to be fair to him, he was as good as his word, things did change. At the end of the evening, Simon offered us a lift back to our hotel in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. We were only staying around the corner, but apparently nobody walks anywhere in LA; plus, we’d never been in a Rolls-Royce before, so we said yes, settled the bill and made our way to the car.”
These quotes were originally published by The Sun Online
Copyright © 2020 Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, extracted from Once Upon A Tyne: Our Story Celebrating 30 Years Together On Telly, published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group on 3rd September 2020, hardback price £20 (eBook and audio also available).