18 APRIL 2007

As golden handcuff deals go Ant and Dec's new ITV contract could hardly be any sweeter. Over the next two and a half years the light entertainment stars are set to take home around £15 million each, more than doubling their current annual salary of £2.5 million.

For the last ten years Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, both 31, have been regular faces on ITV and the broadcaster is keen to hang on to them. The offer to the popular pair puts them in the super league of TV earners, joining the likes of Jonathan Ross - whose contract with the BBC is worth £18 million over three years - and Simon Cowell, who was paid £20 million over three years by ITV.

Through the £30 million deal the Geordie duo, who have won two Baftas and six British Comedy awards, will front four programmes in 2007 - Britain's Got Talent, quiz show PokerFace, which has pulled in audiences of up to 7.5 million, I'm a Celebrity... and Saturday Night Takeaway.

Next, the pair - who met at the age of 13 when they starred in gritty teen drama Byker Grove - look set to take their success story Stateside after filming new game show Wanna Bet for US channel ABC.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
The new contract will tie Saturday Night Takeaway presenters Ant and Dec to ITV until the end of 2009Photo: © ITVClick on photo to enlarge
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