Ant and Dec’s end-of-career fear exposed: ‘This is forced, it’s unnatural’

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Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, both 44, met on the set of the BBC teenage drama ‘Byker Grove’ in the Nineties. Since then, they have gone onto forge a career as a comedy duo and are now beloved by much of the nation. Among their presenting hits are ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’, ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ and more. But in a candid disclosure, the ITV stars revealed their fear about the end of their careers and the moment they expect to know they will be forced into retirement.

Ant and Dec have hit the headlines since the publication of their new book ‘Once Upon a Tyne’, which details their 30 years in showbusiness.

Among the revelations were comments that once they had a “drunken punch-up” in a lift before they went onto GMTV, nearly split up over addiction problems, had clashes with Simon Cowell over ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and more.

The duo, who notably lived three doors away from one another for many years, claim their onscreen chemistry is replicated off camera because they are best friends – despite a number of challenges to their friendship. 

They also admitted to having considered putting an end to their double-act and attempting to go solo with new projects. 

When asked if they feared people no longer finding them funny and their playful routines and pranks being considered too immature for aging stars – they admitted they tried not to think about it.

McPartlin said: “Do you know what? Until it does, I don’t even know if you could answer it. 

“It’s not as if we’re playing that role. Until you think, Christ, this is forced, or this is unnatural… then I’m sure we’d address it.”

At the time of the interview in 2005, the stars were due to turn 30 years old and the Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone asked whether they were concerned.

In a surprise confession, in contrast to his typically cheerful and excitable persona, Donnelly admitted: “I hate it, really hate it. Now it’s getting closer, the more I hate it. 

“Everybody’s going, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not like you haven’t achieved anything’ – it makes me think of everything, personal stuff, yourself, your relationships, and your work.”

Meanwhile McPartlin, who was noted as having lit another cigarette at the time, said: “I’m not too bothered about it, to be honest.”

They reflected on their decades in showbusiness, including while they performed as ‘PJ & Duncan’ – best known for their 1994 hit ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble’.

Donnelly admitted that they never took their act too seriously and performed all songs “with a wink” because they didn’t believe they were good.

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Despite this, they toured with Boyzone and other large acts, to which McPartlin confessed: “They’d go to bed early and we were getting p***ed and not looking after our voices.

“We knew it wasn’t going to last forever. We were intelligent enough to know there’s a lifespan for those kinds of groups.”

Donnelly added “I don’t know if we were brighter – we were just more in control of what we did.

“We knew we were making records for a certain demographic. We didn’t look outside of that.” 

After their jump to becoming full-time TV presenters they admitted that they were haunted by the fear that people would stop finding them funny.

Donnelly said: “We constantly think we’re going to be found out soon. We are going to be. It’s inevitable. It has to be. 

“How on earth have we got this far, and done all this, with just being ourselves and having fun? 

“You shouldn’t be able to be this successful and have so much fun. It just doesn’t compute.”

Despite the gloomy belief about their double-act’s longevity, McPartlin added: “Aye, it is so much fun… It’s not like working for a living.”

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