Entertainment

Ant, Dec and Cat Deeley reflect on SMTV in reunion special 

It has been more than 20 years since they took Saturday morning television world by storm with their music and entertainment show SM:TV Live.

And taking a trip down memory lane on Boxing Day, Ant McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and Cat Deeley reflected on their time as hosts of the hugely-popular ITV show.

During the special episode, the presenters discussed the highs and lows of their SMTV journey, including appearances from Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey and Tom Jones.

Reflecting: Ant McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and Cat Deeley reflected on their time as hosts of the hugely-popular ITV show

The presenting duo, both 45, charted their rise to success alongside Cat, 44, after the show got off to a shaky start when they launched it in the late nineties.

After first arriving on the showbiz scene 30 years ago as PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove, they decided they wanted to step away from their record deal and break into TV presenting.

Ant and Dec explained that they pitched an idea for a music show for Saturday morning TV on ITV, while the broadcaster returned with a counter offer as they admitted they had been wanting to do something similar for a long time.

Ha! During the special episode, the presenters discussed the highs and lows of their SMTV journey, including appearances from Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey and Tom Jones

Ha! During the special episode, the presenters discussed the highs and lows of their SMTV journey, including appearances from Victoria Beckham, Mariah Carey and Tom Jones

Dream trio! The presenting duo, both 45, charted their rise to success alongside Cat, 44, after the show got off to a shaky start when they launched it in the late nineties

Dream trio! The presenting duo, both 45, charted their rise to success alongside Cat, 44, after the show got off to a shaky start when they launched it in the late nineties

Newbies: After first arriving on the showbiz scene 30 years ago as PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove, they decided they wanted to step away from their record deal and break into TV presenting

Newbies: After first arriving on the showbiz scene 30 years ago as PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove, they decided they wanted to step away from their record deal and break into TV presenting

Completing the puzzle: However Ant and Dec weren't the only stars of the show, memorably Cat was the third member of their trio, who helped carve out the success of the show

Completing the puzzle: However Ant and Dec weren’t the only stars of the show, memorably Cat was the third member of their trio, who helped carve out the success of the show

However they actually turned the channel down twice, before eventually striking a deal. 

Dec said: ‘We were turning down a massive commission, 52 weeks of the year for three hours every Saturday.’  

‘Then we realised we were looking a gift horse in the mouth.’

However Ant and Dec weren’t the only stars of the show, memorably Cat was the third member of their trio, who helped carve out the success of the show. 

Sketch: Dec pictured during a Chums sketch on the Saturday morning show

Sketch: Dec pictured during a Chums sketch on the Saturday morning show

Dec said: ‘We knew we wanted a girl involved, just didn’t know who it would be.’

Then Cat added: ‘It was sold as music show, I didn’t really want to do a kids show. I was told they’ll be no puppets or talking down to kids. It’s going to be a cool music show.’

Telling the story of how they decided on Cat, Ant revealed: ‘The night before we’d been to a restaurant after the football, Dec got a bit tipsy and fell off his chair. There was a couple on a date who looked over and tutted.’

However little did they know, someone had told Cat the story and she used it to her advantage to wind the boys up during their first meeting. 

Cat told a horrified Dec: 'We've met before, I was out with my boyfriend in a Chinese restaurant and you ruined our dinner and fell off a chair'

Cat told a horrified Dec: ‘We’ve met before, I was out with my boyfriend in a Chinese restaurant and you ruined our dinner and fell off a chair’

Just kidding! Dec admitted he could feel himself going 'redder and redder', before Cat admitted she was winding him up'

Just kidding! Dec admitted he could feel himself going ‘redder and redder’, before Cat admitted she was winding him up’

Cat told a horrified Dec: ‘We’ve met before, I was out with my boyfriend in a Chinese restaurant and you ruined our dinner and fell off a chair.’

Dec admitted he could feel himself going ‘redder and redder’, before Cat admitted she was winding him up.

Clearly impressed by her boldness, Ant said: ‘If you’ve got the brass neck to wind us up in the first 30 seconds of meeting us. Then you’re the girl.’

Aw! The honoured the reunion special by sharing a series of throwback images

Aw! The honoured the reunion special by sharing a series of throwback images

However despite finding the right presenting fit, they admitted that their show was anything but an instant hit.

Cat said: ‘It felt empty, not enough going on, we didn’t have enough content really.

Ant went on: ‘We got it wrong initially, we concentrated all our efforts on the music section at the end. It had been going fairly badly for a long enough time that people were asking should we be on air.’

Oh no! Cat added: 'We were getting hammered, the shows weren't great'

Oh no! Cat added: ‘We were getting hammered, the shows weren’t great’

Admitting he was genuinely concerned it could be the end of their career, Dec said: ‘We thought if they pull this I’ll lose my house, have to move back to Newcastle with my parents. I thought this was bad.’

Cat added: ‘We were getting hammered, the shows weren’t great.’

While Dec said: ‘It was a struggle to get any guests. We needed to slightly forget about the music show and put our efforts into the other parts.’

Worrying times: While Dec said: 'It was a struggle to get any guests. We needed to slightly forget about the music show and put our efforts into the other parts'

Worrying times: While Dec said: ‘It was a struggle to get any guests. We needed to slightly forget about the music show and put our efforts into the other parts’

The turning point came when the lads did a pantomime stint during their first year on the show, where they learned to connect with their young audience. 

Cat confessed: ‘The minute we brought kids into the programme, it changed everything.’

Ant continued: ‘We realised what makes them laugh, it’s toilet humour and slap stick, the same as it’s always been.’

Changing the game: Cat confessed: 'The minute we brought kids into the programme, it changed everything'

Changing the game: Cat confessed: ‘The minute we brought kids into the programme, it changed everything’

While Dec mentioned: ‘On the BBC they’re a bit cosy and nice to the kids, we wanted to be their mischievous older brothers.’ 

In the same way, the vowed not to go easy on the kids and refused to sugar coat them losing ‘Challenge Ant’, while Dec shouted at youngsters down the phone when they failed to answer Wonkey Donkey correctly.

As the show began to gain traction it attracted trends, as people wrote in to complain about Skoda badges going missing because people were stealing them to replicate the hosts Skoda necklaces.  

Ant said: ‘But they [Skoda] were so delighted by the publicity they gave us a car to give away as a prize.’

Cheeky chaps: While Dec mentioned: 'On the BBC they're a bit cosy and nice to the kids, we wanted to be their mischievous older brothers'

Cheeky chaps: While Dec mentioned: ‘On the BBC they’re a bit cosy and nice to the kids, we wanted to be their mischievous older brothers’

They admitted that they knew the show was gaining popularity from the reaction they received when they travelled back to Newcastle to visit home.  

Ant said ‘People were loving it and we were enjoying doing it.’

They also loved their relationship with Cat, as they added: ‘We loved working with her. On and off screen. She was up for anything and wasn’t afraid of looking daft.’

With success came star-studded guests, as they showed a clip of Victoria Beckham drawing on a pair of boobs on a perspex screen during one sketch.

Guest appearance: By then the show was so big that Mariah Carey appeared as a guest star'

Guest appearance: By then the show was so big that Mariah Carey appeared as a guest star’

Their final show included a Chums, which was a parody of Friends, scene where Dec and Cat got married after teasing a romance for years.

By then the show was so big that Mariah Carey appeared as a guest star.

She played Cat’s bridesmaid and the presenters revealed she was more than happy to get herself fully involved.

Ant said: ‘Mariah Carey phoned the set to find out what colour the walls are so her bridesmaids dress would clash and it would be funnier.’

Towards the end of the reunion special the trio went on to reveal how hard it was to leave the show behind when they eventually called it quits.

Moving on: Towards the end of the reunion special the trio went on to reveal how hard it was to leave the show behind when they eventually called it quits'

Moving on: Towards the end of the reunion special the trio went on to reveal how hard it was to leave the show behind when they eventually called it quits’

Ant said they had been approached about hosting Pop Idol and they felt there was no way they would be able to straddle both shows. 

He said: ‘It was gut wrenching to leave. We worked from the conception to the very last day. Even now I hate the thought of us having left.

Cat said: ‘We formed a relationship on and off screen. It was sad feeling I wasn’t going to see my mates every week.’

‘I can’t believe where it got to that star-studded wedding on Chums. There was nothing on TV that was like that. You don’t see it anymore.’

However Ant kept things light and quipped: ‘We miss it…. she lives in California now! 

‘By the end it was the show we wanted to make all along.’

Too big to handle: Ant said they had been approached about hosting Pop Idol and they felt there was no way they would be able to straddle both shows'

Too big to handle: Ant said they had been approached about hosting Pop Idol and they felt there was no way they would be able to straddle both shows’


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