Four hours before Ant and Dec go live on ITV with the return of Saturday Night Takeaway, you might not imagine a couple of journalists are dressed up as PAC-MAN running around the set. But that’s exactly what I’ve been up to today: road-testing the first of this year’s Ant vs Dec challenges.
Yes, somewhere inside the rabbit warren that is ITV Studios, a giant version of the beloved arcade game has been constructed for the duo to race in tonight. I should probably take something away from the fact that I was clearly being used to check it was safe for the presenters…
It was decided I’d play the part of Ant, and so I was thrust inside a giant PAC-MAN suit while people with headsets yelled things like ‘bring me the cherries!’ and ‘prepare the ghosts!’ like it was the most normal thing in the world.
Racing against me, in the role of Dec, was a fellow journo from a rival website. I wasn’t taking it seriously at all. I certainly haven’t been in training all week. Nor did I whip up a protein shake this morning or do a couple of press-ups before it all got going…
Once I’d waddled my way to the other side of the maze to get into my starting position, the game began. Much like Usain Bolt* (*nothing like Usain Bolt) I shot off around the maze. Job one was to avoid capture by the ghosts. Job two was to turn as many of the floor markers my colour as I could. Job three was to avoid falling over because this would definitely have resulted in me flailing around like a bug on its back. The ITV press officers who were cheering us on (or rather laughing at us while taking a series of unflattering photos) would never let me live that down.
Now, I’d like to end this by saying I was victorious. I’d like to say that Ant appeared on set to high-five me for doing such a wonderful job in his name and that I’d spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the glory of victory. But then came the final count.
With our very own X Factor-style result, we waited nervously for the final numbers. The suspense killed me. I half expected someone to say it was going to an advert break.
But there’s simply no beating around the bush, I was absolutely trounced: 62 to 84.
I was, of course, completely sportsmanly. I in no way reacted like this.
Until I got home.
Here’s hoping the real Ant does a better job tonight.
Saturday Night Takeaway starts tonight at 7:00pm on ITV