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Ant and Dec reveal heartwarming secret to their on-screen chemistry

The dynamic duo will return to our screens for the 2023 series of I'm a Celebrity 

Ant and Dec smiling together as they celebrate 30 years in TV© Getty
Megan Bull
TV Writer
November 18, 2023
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It's that time of year again! Ant and Dec are Down Under for the new series of I'm a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here, which returns on Sunday night. Ahead of their adventures in Australia, HELLO! caught up with the dynamic duo at the National Television Awards in September, where they revealed the secret to their palpable on-air chemistry. 

WATCH: Get a first look at I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here 2023

Attributing their success to their 35-year friendship, which they've always prioritised over their TV careers, Ant told us: "We're friends and that's it. We are friends first and foremost and, and the TV shows come after that. So, I think at the heart of it when you watch it you know, it's a true friendship."

"Yeah, we've always said that ours is a career built on friendship, not a friendship on building a career," added Dec. "So, I think our foundations are very, very stable in our friendship. And, you know, we've known each other now for 30 odd, 31 years I think?" 

Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at London's O2© David M. Benett
Ant and Dec caught up with HELLO! at the NTA's in September

"We met at 13, you know," chimed in Ant. "And it's, you know, we've just grown like any friends do who've known each other that long and we know everything about each other. You know, what makes the other one laugh, what annoys the other one and yeah, we love each other." 

Ant and Dec first met in 1989 on the set of Byker Grove, where they went on to play the characters of PJ and Duncan for the next four years. After witnessing their chemistry, the programme's producer, Matthew Robinson, advised the pair to stick together. He told them: "Stay together through any row you have, whatever it is, be together and you could be the future Morecambe and Wise."

ant and dec pj and duncan
Ant and Dec met on the set of Byker Grove in 1989

After succeeding in the sphere of children's television, Ant and Dec decided to turn their hands to pop music. The first track they released was performed as part of a storyline on Byker Grove. The single was successful and so the pair recorded two albums under the names of their characters, PJ and Duncan. 

Their most successful song was Let's Get Ready To Rhumble, which was nominated for a BRIT award – and remains iconic to this day. For their third album, the duo went by their real names of Ant and Dec and over the course of four years, they made 14 top 20 hits. 

ant and dec smiling in suits © Getty
The duo kicked off their presenting careers in 1994

In 1994, the pair landed their first presenting gig on CITV's Saturday morning children's show Gimme 5, which lasted for two seasons. They also fronted SMTV Live and CD:UK alongside Cat Deeley on ITV. The show was a combination of music, comedy and cartoons and soon became the most popular Saturday morning show. However, it wasn't until 1999, that they landed their first primetime presenting job on Friends Like These, marking their transition from actors to presenters.  

Saturday Night Takeaway came not long after in 2002. The same year, I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! was launched, a show that drew a massive 15 million viewers in its third series. 

MORE: What is Declan Donnelly's net worth? Saturday Night Takeaway host's fortune revealed

READ: I'm A Celebrity reveals full line-up of contestants - Nigel Farage, Marvin Humes, Josie Gibson and more

Since then, Ant and Dec have fronted some of the nation's favourite Saturday night entertainment shows, such as Britain's Got Talent, and were even awarded an OBE by the Queen for their services to broadcasting and entertainment in 2017. 

Ant and Dec for I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!© James Gourley/ITV/Shutterstock
Ant and Dec have touched down in Australia for the new series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

More recently, at the aforementioned National Television Awards, the pair picked up the Best Presenter award for the 22nd time. Delivering a heartfelt speech, Dec told fans:  "I can't believe we're still getting away with this. We're more nervous than ever. My hands are sticky, my heart is beating, but I tell you what, we are as humbled and as grateful as we were the first time we won it. We'll see you back on telly very soon."

And on that note, fans can tune into the first episode of I'm a Celebrity 2023, which airs on Sunday 19th November at 9pm on ITV1 and ITVX. 

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