Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway is back – and this series is going to be bigger than ever before.
RadioTimes.com spoke exclusively to Executive Producer Pete Ogden about series 15 of the entertainment show. He let us in on more than a few secrets – from what we can expect from the sequel to The Missing Crown Jewels, why Ant and Dec might be donning gold hot pants and how this might not be the end for Little Ant and Dec after all…
The sequel to The Missing Crown Jewels is called Saturday Knight Takeaway
See what they did there? Continuing on from Who Shot Simon Cowell? and The Missing Crown Jewels, the next mini-series will begin in episode two and will be called Saturday Knight Takeaway.
“This year members of The Honoured start going missing and Ant and Dec have to find out why and who is taking them,” explains Pete, who also confirms that there are “not quite 30 but certainly a number” of celebrities starring in the skit.
Judy Murray is joining the show alongside returning stars Joanna Lumley, Emilia Fox, David Walliams, Alan Shearer and Gareth Malone.
Ant and Dec might be donning Kylie Minogue’s gold hot pants in episode one
It’s already been confirmed that the first guest announcer for episode one will be Olly Murs, while Kylie Minogue will be performing on the show.
What you probably didn’t know is that Kylie is not only opening show one by singing her new single, but she’s also closing the show with a performance of some of her greatest hits for The End of the Show Show – and will, of course, be roping in Ant and Dec.
Immediately we’re picturing them both sporting her infamous gold hot pants from her Spinning Around video.
“Exactly!” says Pete. “All I will tell you – on the night don’t picture them too hard… you might need a lie down afterwards.”
We. Cannot. Wait.
Little Ant and Dec are gone… but possibly not for good
Yes, it’s true. Little Ant and Dec aren’t returning for more Saturday Night Takeaway, but Pete says this might not be the end.
“The littles have just grown up – they’re no longer little,” says Pete. “Little Ant has gone to High School and Little Dec is doing his SATs this year. So they are simply too big to be little Ant and Dec.”
However the roles have previously been recast. Youngsters Neil Overend and Haydn Reid took over from originals James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw, and Pete says that although there are “no plans at the moment” to recast “who knows what the future will hold.”
He added that the door is “absolutely not” closed on more Littles being cast in the future.
“They were such a big part of the show, I think for this year we’ve got lots of other new and exciting things to do but we sort of felt like we don’t need to replace them any time soon,” says Pete. “They will be sorely missed but they are just too big!”
Amanda Holden stars in “one of the best ever” Undercovers in the first episode
From Jamie Oliver to Gordon Ramsay, Jeremy Kyle to Simon Cowell, Ant and Dec have pranked many celebrities over the years in the name of Saturday Night Takeaway.
This year it’s Amanda Holden who gets the Undercover treatment, and we’ll see what happens in episode one.
“It’s one of the best ever” says Pete. “She thought she was live on QVC with her homeware range but obviously we made the entire show go wrong and it’s brilliant – she’s brilliant!
“Actually what’s really nice is that people take it as a compliment,” Pete continues. “Amanda sent me a note afterwards and she said it’s a real compliment. We do it to people we love and they’re often flattered even though we’re pranking them. But they are the scariest, most nerve-racking shoots ever. Because if they spot one camera you’ve lost the whole thing.”
Get Out Of Me Ear is also returning, which sees celebrities having to follow instructions given to them by Ant and Dec through a secret earpiece and embarrassing themselves in front of unsuspecting members of the public.
Jeremy Kyle, Richard Madeley, Mel B and Louis Walsh have all done it before, although Pete is staying tight-lipped on the two “brilliant names” he’s signed up to do it this series.
Here’s Dermot O’Leary stealing people’s shopping and interviewing people with cucumbers on the segment last year:
The audience giveaway in the finale is going to be the biggest ever
Last year, the series climax of Saturday Night Takeaway saw Ant and Dec coming live from Disneyworld in Florida for a huge spectacular.
But this year, incredibly, Pete says he thinks they’ve topped it.
“We’re going to do our biggest audience giveaway ever,” he says. “We are doing our finale from another really exciting place and we’re going to be taking more audience than ever.”
He says that “over 200” Saturday Night Takeaway fans will be jetting off abroad for the final episode in the series – more than ever before.
“It really is [difficult to top last year] but I think we have, if I’m honest,” he says. “Disneyworld were so incredible and it was a British television first – it was challenging and massive and exciting.
“There are an army of people behind the scenes that have to go and find the passports, we have to apply for the winners’ ESTAs which is like a mini visa – and some of them only win two or three days before we fly so there is literally an army of people going ‘passports, tickets, money!’.
“It’s really frantic, and that’s why I suppose lots of other shows don’t do it because it is such a challenge. But it’s one that we love. Every year I’m like ‘Are we going to go abroad again because how are we going to beat it?’ and we just feel like it’s something that people seem to really enjoy.”
There are big plans for the 100th episode
Episode two of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway is also the programme’s 100th episode. So how are they celebrating?
“We’re going to have a big celebration, looking back over the years with lots of surprises,” says Pete, who also promises a few “big surprises” for some of the show’s biggest fans. “We’re going to have a very special version of Win the Ads and the Ant vs Dec is going to really challenge Ant and Dec’s knowledge of the past 100 shows,” he adds.
“They’re going to be under pressure to remember what they’ve done!”
The audience surprises are going to be the most exciting yet
On Saturday Night Takeaway, the audience in the studio and at home are just as big a part of the show as the celebrities.
“The second the series finishes, we look ahead to next year,” says Pete, who says that he’s already working on plans for the series of Saturday Night Takeaway that’s due to air in 2019.
“So this year we’ve got some really exciting audience prizes. We have been working with people for almost a whole year and we’ve been in their lives without them knowing and setting up all kinds of stuff. What we’ve got is I think the most exciting audience surprises we’ve ever done.”
He says they receive “multiple multiple thousands” of applications from members of the public and that they have a team that look through every single application all throughout the year.
“I don’t want to give anything away but what I will tell you is people should just watch out,” he laughs. “Because you never know what we have been up to. We could have been in your life for the past six months when you have no idea.”
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway starts Saturday 24th February on ITV