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CHUCKLE VISION

Ant & Dec, cheeky, chirpy lads about town, are now TV mega-stars, but that hasn’t changed them. Or has it? Gina Morris investigates...

First they were those pesky Byker Grove kids PJ & Duncan, rumbling around in their huge trousers. Then they killed the kids, shrunk the pants and started the Cult of Ant & Dec. Today with a brand-new TV series, Ant & Dec Unzipped, on the way, they’re very important businessman.
That’s right Ant & Dec are managing directors of their own production company. How did this happen? Who are those girls they’re with? And why are they hitting each other? These questions and more will be answered by the duo we know and love as those cheeky little Geordie fellas...

So you’re finally admitting to having girlfriends. (Ant dates Lisa from Deuce, Dec steps out with Claire Buckfield from 2.4 Children)
Ant: Yes, until now we’ve been hiding them in little boxes with air holes and feeding them bits of bread. Thing was, I didn’t really like talking about it and because they’re famous too, I didn’t want it to end up like Brian Harvey and Daniella Westbrook. I feel a bit guilty for misleading people but we thought it was the only way to have something private.
Dec: We felt like we had very little that was private to us, mainly because we’ve got big mouths and we always say too much in interviews - but now I’m glad people know, it’s taken the pressure off massively. I feel so much better being honest with people.

You’ve just set up Ant & Dec Productions Limited. Is it true you’re worth a million?
Dec: (Laughing) No! No way near that amount.
Ant: We got a million pounds to make the new series, but out of that we have to make ten episodes, pay everyone, including ourselves. At first it was like, great we’ve got all this money, let’s pay ourselves loads! But then you realize how much making a show costs.
Dec: We’re worth a few quid, but we’re not millionaires.

So you two are managing directors. Are your board meetings hilarious?
Ant: Yeah, we can't see over the table. Actually we surprise ourselves, we’re quite serious.
Dec: There are four executives directors, two proper businessmen and us two, in our tartan shirts and trainers. We get to say what we want and sign forms saying who gets paid - it’s cracking.

You live, work and play together. What’s the secret of your relationship?
Ant: A blend of twelve special herbs, like Kentucky Fried Chicken. I think basically we’re just mates.
Dec: I really don’t know what it is, but it’s good. We’re the only ones who’ve been through the same experiences together. We know how each other feels.
Ant: I think you only meet one really good best mate in your life and it might not be ‘til you’re 35. We were lucky we met when we were 13.

You sound like the perfect couple. If things were different, would you be?
Dec: Would I go out with Ant if he was a girl? No way. He’s got a hairy arse!
Ant: I wouldn’t have it if I was a woman would I?
Dec: Oh aye.
Ant: I wouldn’t go out with Dec ‘cos I know him too well. We know each other inside out, they’d be no.. mystery.

Who does all the dirty work?
Ant: If we’re in a mood with anyone and we have to ring our manager, it’s usually me, because I can talk whereas Dec gets talked over.
Dec: I’m not very good at confronting people. I’m good at arguing though.
Ant: Oh yeah. If you’re having a stupid argument with Dec and you tell him to get lost, he goes ‘Oh, resorting to swearing are you? Very intelligent, ‘ which just winds you up even more and then it’s ‘Oh punching us now are you? Caveman.’

 When’s the last time you had a punch up?
Dec: Ages ago. It’s usually when we’re drunk, and it’s never been about work.
Ant: It’s when Dec leaves the margarine out of the fridge.
Dec: Or that time in Spain when I told you off for walking too fast and you hit us.
Ant: Oh aye. And the time in that lift at GMTV with all those people. I was trying to talk to you and you put your hands over your ears. I thought, cheeky git and punched you.
Dec: And they all went: (gasp) ‘Are you alright?’ They thought it was the end of us.

Was killing off PJ & Duncan the best thing you did?
Both: Yes.
Dec: It’s no wonder people saw us as these two little lads. I was 20 years old and still called Duncan from Byker Grove.
Ant: I’m much happier being called by my real name. It felt like we were these characters before.
Dec: And people just didn’t take us seriously, they thought we were a joke band because we had names from a TV show. They thought there was nothing to us.. probably right.

You’ve a reputation for being a bit grumpy, Ant.
Ant: Aye, it’s because Dec’s always friendly to people straight way. I can see them looking at me thinking, oh he’s the miserable one. Dec tends to like people straight away but it takes me days to suss them out.
Dec: People are always saying to me, ‘what’s up with Ant, doesn’t he like me?’
Ant: Sometimes it’s worked in my favour because I’ve spent time figuring someone out and then realized they’re an arse.
Dec: And I’ve been really matey, and then thought, God, he’s an arse.

What would it be like if you’d never met?
Dec: I’d still be living in Newcastle probably, being an extra or something. It’s a horrible thought, you start imagining all these different scenarios and you have to say, ‘stop it, stop it. It has happened so don’t’ worry about it.’
Ant: I’d probably be on the dole or at university.

Do you even get any weird fan mail?
Dec: I get a lot of letters from middle-aged housewives. They describe their sexy underwear and tell me what they’d like to do to me. I think it’s flattering.
Ant: They all see him as this cute little kid they’d like to take home and tie up. Jammy little git. I might grow a floppy fringe and cut my legs off at the knees and see if I can get away with it. I get all the mad funny letters about Bernie Clifton. He gets sexy poems and I get sent The Crankies autograph.

What was it like presenting the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party?
Dec: Really scary. I had brown trousers all day!
Ant: We sat in those Wurlitzers at the back of the stage all through Macarena and didn’t’ say a word to each other except ‘good luck’.
Dec: But it was a brilliant thing to do.
Ant: We rang Andi Peters, who’s a mate of ours, the night before and asked if he’d come down. He’s presented a few times so he gave us a few tips.

Have you ever thought, that’s it, I’ve had enough?
Dec: Yeah. More than once I’ve wanted to pack it all in, go back to Newcastle and do something that’s easier to deal with. There were time when both of us were really low, times when we didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, when you think, I could just pack a bag now and leave. Sometimes you just forget why you’re doing it and then you go out on stage and think, aye, this is why.

What famous person would you like to have a chat with?
Ant: I’d like to talk with Paul Gascoigne. I’d just like to have a drink with him and work out what he was like. He seems a really mixed up bloke to me. There’s a lot of rubbish written about him and I’d just like to make my own mind up about him.
Dec: People think everything in the papers is true. It’s not until you experience it first hand that you realize. There’ve been morning we’ve opened the papers and read made-up stuff about us: Ant proposing to Lisa in Antigua. He was in the next room and I was like, ‘and when did you go to Antigua?’

 Name your showbiz chums?
Dec: Sean Maguire, Sonia.
Ant: Andi Peters.
Dec: Neil and Chris from the Pet Shop Boys.
Ant: Robbie Williams. He’s really nice.
Dec: I don’t want to leave anybody out. Erm, Matthew and Andy from Dodgy.
Ant: They said, ‘oh we love what you guys do, but Krazy Katz was rubbish. Don’t ever do anything like that again.’ We didn’t mind that at all, they were really nice.

If you weren’t you, what would you think of Ant & Dec?
Dec: Good question. The one thing that worries me is that people think we’re right smart arses. Smug little gits.
Ant: I’d think, God, they’re on the telly all the time, always happy.
Dec: Actually I’d think probably we were smart arses too.
Ant: Aye, so would I!

Taken from Smash Hits magazine. Feb 12-25/97. Words by Gina Morris. Thanks to Winnie for sending me the article!!


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