Anthony "Ant" McPartlin and Declan "Dec" Donnelly, known collectively as Ant & Dec, are a comedy and presenting duo from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. They are regular presenters on many high-profile ITV1 shows, including I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!, Saturday Night Takeaway, Push The Button and Britain's Got Talent. The duo rose to fame as actors in the children's television show Byker Grove during which and in their subsequent pop career they were respectively known as PJ & Duncan - the names of the characters they had played, and then by presenting children's saturday morning TV shows SMTV Live and CD:UK. The duo achieved wide international exposure when, as backstage commentators for the televised talent competition Britain's Got Talent in April 2009, they interviewed contestant Susan Boyle whose audition would become the most-viewed YouTube video of the year and whose record album topped sales charts in dozens of countries.
Anthony McPartlin was born on 18 November 1975. Declan Donnelly was born on 25 September 1975. They met each other while working on the BBC children's drama Byker Grove in 1989. After a shaky start, they soon became best friends.
They have achieved such popularity as a duo that they are hardly ever seen apart on screen. (Indeed, it is reported that they are each insured against the other's death, although the amount is unknown.) This has led to them receiving joint nominations for many awards. It is a running joke that many people do not know which of them is Ant, and which Dec, even though their respective appearances differ significantly.
To assist with identification, they follow the 180 degree rule; all their TV appearances and publicity photos have Ant on the left and Dec on the right but many people still don't know who is who.
Although Ant had built some television experience with a brief stint on the children's classic, Why Don't You?, Dec was the first of the duo to acquire his place on the BBC children's drama series Byker Grove despite suffering from moderate dyslexia, playing Duncan. A year later (in 1989) Ant joined the cast playing PJ (Peter Jenkins). Their friendship began when their storylines collided, creating a friendship off screen as well as on.
(It should be noted that the 180 degree rule was put in place by producers on Byker Grove, realising early on the potential in the pair. This trend continued through all music videos and performances, and is still in practice with all current presenting.)
After they left the television series, they turned their hand to pop music, releasing (under their Byker Grove character names "PJ & Duncan") songs such as "Why Me? (Is It Justified)", "Our Radio Rocks" and The Monkees cover "Stepping Stone". Their most famous hit was the BRIT Award nominated "Let's Get Ready to Rhumble" for which they were choreographed by London choreographer Mark Short, who also worked with Tina Turner and Peter Andre. In total the pair released 15 singles and three studio albums; see PJ & Duncan discography for further information.
They went on many tours to promote their singles and albums, undertaking TV and radio interviews. It wasn't only the UK they toured for promotion, they also went to many other countries like Germany and Japan where they succeeded in their music.
In Japan, the duo's song "Eternal Love" was number one for several weeks, as well as many other singles and all three of their albums. Success also struck in Germany and other European countries.
Ant & Dec were also successful with the hits "When I Fall In Love" in 1996 and "Falling" in 1997, which achieved greatest success in South East Asia and areas of South Korea.
During their music career they also helped present the children's show Gimme 5.
Later, the duo gained two series of their own BAFTA award-winning sketch comedy show (The Ant & Dec Show) on Children's BBC in 1995, as well as an early evening show on Channel 4 (Ant & Dec Unzipped) in 1997, which also won a BAFTA.
After presenting various other BBC programmes such as Friends Like These, the BBC believed the duo had run their course and decided to let them go. Rivals ITV quickly signed the pair on in 1998, where they enjoyed success fronting ITV1's Saturday morning children's programmes SMTV Live and CD:UK alongside Cat Deeley.
They subsequently moved to Saturday evening to present Pop Idol, PokerFace and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. Their highest audience figures to date were obtained whilst presenting I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in February 2004. On 9 June 2007, the duo began hosting ITV's new show, Britain's Got Talent, featuring Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. They began presenting a second series which started in early April. The second series finished on Saturday 31 May 2008 with audience figures peaking at 14.4 million viewers.
Dec broke his arm, thumb and suffered a concussion whilst doing a stunt for his show Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway in 2005. In the section called Ant vs Dec, the incident involved learning how to ride a motorbike and jump through a ring of fire. Not pulling enough on the throttle caused the bike to topple over and send Declan flying falling on his head. The accident caused the pair to miss Comic Relief two days after the accident.
They have also presented the charity football show Soccer Aid and the weekend long golfing show All*Star Cup. Their next major TV series was a game show called PokerFace which aired on ITV1 on 10 July 2006.
As well as these new projects, 2006 also saw another series of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, during the first episode of which the pair abseiled down the side of the 22-storey London Studios, where the show is filmed.
In November 2007, the duo presented the seventh series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
On 16 February 2008 the pair began a new series of Saturday Night Takeaway.
On 11 April 2008, it was reported that Gallowgate Productions TV, the TV production company owned by Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly (named after a stand in their beloved St James' Park where they watch Newcastle United F.C.), purchased the rights to Byker Grove after the production company that made it (Zenith Entertainment) went bankrupt in 2007. According to reports, the reason Ant & Dec decided to purchase the rights was so to stop a digital channel showing repeats. They also bought the rights to SM:TV Live.
In the autumn of 2008 The Ant & Dec Show (What You Wrote) was due to air, but British tabloid newspaper The Sun reported ITV had axed the idea, which was being made by the duo's production company Gallowgate.
In November 2008, the duo presented the eighth series of ITV1's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! , and have confirmed to present the ninth in November 2009.
On 13 March 2009, the pair appeared on Comic Relief with their story visiting a centre for young carers in the North East to raise money to improve the lives of young carers and their families.
In December 2009, the duo presented the final show of the ninth series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
Law firm Olswang were commissioned to investigate the 2005 British Comedy Awards when the producers overturned the voting public's first choice, The Catherine Tate Show in favour of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway for the People's Choice Award. The incident is also the subject of an investigation by media regulator Ofcom.
Following allegations of fraud in 2007, an investigation by auditors Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu discovered that two shows, Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, had defrauded viewers participating in phone-ins. The latter was produced by the pair's own production company. The programmes were subject to a further investigation by Ofcom which found that between January 2003 and October 2006 Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway had -
and between September and October 2005, Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon had -
One episode of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! was also found to be in breach of Ofcom rules.
On 10 September 2008, McPartlin and Donnelly announced that the frauds "will never happen again", insisting that a high-tech system and strict rules will ensure viewers can’t lose out with poorly monitored premium rate phone lines.
On 30 September 2008, it was reported that the pair were being sued for $30 million by Greek American stand-up comedian and actor Anthony Kalloniatis for using "his" name in the United States. The lawsuit, among other things, alleges trademark infringement and fraud.
In October 2009, Kelly Brook claimed that Ant and Dec had been the cause of her removal as 4th judge on Britain's Got Talent. She claimed that she was asked to leave the show after she upset the pair.
They have, albeit infrequently, returned to acting. They played themselves in the film Love Actually (in which Bill Nighy's character referred to Dec as "Ant or Dec"). They have returned to their Geordie roots in a one-off tribute to The Likely Lads (in which they remade one of the classic episodes) and also by returning to Byker Grove for Geoff's funeral.
In 1998 the pair starred in the pantomime Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at Sunderland's Empire Theatre alongside Donnelly's partner at the time Clare Buckfield. The show was financially unsuccessful, making £20,000 less than it cost to stage, with the duo footing a large share of the shortfall.
Their latest acting project was the film Alien Autopsy released in April 2006. The film gained mixed reviews about the storyline but the pair received generally good reviews for their acting abilities.
They revealed that they were in an unreleased footage of an American Idol audition, which was shown on Saturday Night Takeaway to surprise Simon Cowell. They wore large-sized apparel to partially hide their identities.
In 2005, as part of the ITV Network's 50th birthday celebrations, they were back on television fronting Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, a celebration of some of ITV's most enduring gameshows from the past 50 years.
In 2006, a celebration to the show Spitting Image saw Ant and Dec having their own puppets made. They have also been made into cartoon characters on the comedy show 2DTV, and face masks in Avid Merrion's Bo Selecta. Wax works of the duo can also be seen in London's Madame Tussauds.