Ant and Dec suffer Saturday Night Takeaway…of viewers!

Ant and Dec suffer Saturday Night Takeaway…of viewers! Millions desert latest series of Geordie duo’s ITV variety show with ratings lowest since it launched in 2002

  • Saturday Night Takeaway drew in around 1.1million viewers in March 2020
  • But the first episode of the recent series received only 4.9million viewers
  • Read: Saturday Night Takeaway fans in tears after Ant’s sign language gesture

For more than two decades the Geordie duo have been the undisputed kings of primetime television. But it seems that viewers have grown tired of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, with millions deserting their new series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

Viewing figures for the first episode, which aired at the end of last month, were at their lowest since the variety show launched on ITV in 2002, with an average audience of 4.9 million. Even worse for the chirpy duo, that dropped a further 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 in 11.1 million viewers. ITV insiders have been left stunned at 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 handcuffs’ deal with ITV which is thought to be worth more than £30 million. The contract means they will celebrate 25 years with the broadcaster.

it seems that viewers have grown tired of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly (pictured with Alison Hammond, Jordan North, Stephen Mulhern, David Tennant and Andi Peters) on Saturday Night Takeaway

Viewing figures for the first episode of the pair’s show, which aired at the end of last month, were at their lowest since the programme launched on ITV in 2002

Sources at ITV say bosses were thought to have been keen to finalise the contract after interest from Netflix and Amazon Prime.

While ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! – also hosted by Ant and Dec – is still popular and pulled in more than nine million viewers during last year’s series, there are fears that Britain’s Got Talent – another show the pair front – will not fare well in the ratings when it is broadcast later this year.

The pair also host a quiz show, Ant And Dec’s Limitless Win.

One theory behind the drastic drop in popularity is thought to be Mr McPartlin’s 2018 drink-driving conviction after he crashed his Mini into two cars in Richmond, South-West London, which left a young boy injured. The star, 48, was banned from driving for 20 months and fined £86,000. He then went into rehab as well as taking a break from work, leaving Mr Donnelly, 47, to host the finale of Saturday Night Takeaway alone for the first time.

Around the same time, Mr McPartlin split from his wife of 12 years, Lisa Armstrong. The pair later divorced and he married his personal assistant in 2021.

An ITV spokesman said: ‘It was the biggest programme of the day and was 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.

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