You might think I am exaggerating, but I can honestly say it has been the only TV question people have wanted to ask me since October, presuming I would be blessed with detailed inside knowledge on Ant’s condition or chatting to him on a daily basis.
People both within the industry and outside of it, parents of friends at parties, people I had just been introduced to in pubs, everyone frankly, has been asking me what I know.
Ant and Dec are hugely popular, which is fairly obvious, but it has never been more apparent then when Ant admitted he had some problems this summer.
People really care about Ant and Dec and that warmth on screen means viewers feel they know them.
The truth is, whilst Ant and Dec have been very generous to me with their time over the last 12 years or so, I don’t have them on speed dial and we don’t golf together (though I am available as a caddy Down Under, lads).
But thankfully I saw them briefly after they landed in Brisbane Airport and spoke to the pair and they are “raring to go”, to use their own words.
“It’s brilliant to be back together, it’s perfect. Everything just slots back into place,” Dec said.
I was thrilled to see Ant looking well, and perhaps a bit slimmer and toned than the last time we spoke at the end of the Saturday Night Takeaway series in Disneyland.
It’s too early to say exactly how much this summer has taken out of him, with a spell in rehab for addiction to prescription painkillers, but I know that every viewer I have spoken to will be urging him on during I’m a Celebrity.
They are a duo no one wants to see fail.
There are very few brilliant TV double acts in light entertainment these days. And without question Ant and Dec have been the best for many years.
Look at ITV’s weekend schedules over the last 12 months: across three shows – Saturday Night Takeaway, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity – they’re on air for up to HALF of the year.
The common theme in all those shows is two Geordie jokers who help command audiences of up to ten million viewers.
Their humour looks relaxed and easy, they are two guys who really are best mates, and I have always felt I’m a Celebrity shows off the best of their slapstick gags and repetitive jokes that get funnier the more they use them through the series.
Making old jokes amusing by using them night after night is a real skill, but they make the regular viewers really feel part of the experience.
So with political turmoil and general doom and gloom around in bucketloads, I will certainly be joining the millions sat at home in hoping Ant and Dec bring us their usual laughs on I’m a Celebrity and have a trademark series as if nothing has changed.
As the nights get darker and the temperatures drop in the UK, it’s a great time for some decent reality TV.
And I think for many of their fans, it will be a nice start just to see Ant smiling again and fooling around with his best friend. So, howay the lads!
Mark Jefferies is showbiz editor at the Daily Mirror. He flew to Australia with British Airways
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! returns to ITV on Sunday 19th November
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