AntandDec. Their combined name easily rolls off the tongue, because really they are just one entity.

They share their Twitter page – @antanddec – and their career, never working apart from the time they met aged 13.

They live just three doors apart and have taken out life insurance against the other one dying.

They have even trademarked the name ‘Ant and Dec’.

Not that anyone would dare to pass themselves off as Britain’s favourite presenting double act.

“I guess not, but our lawyers told us to do it,” says Declan Donnelly.

AntandDec are so familiar to us as a pair that many people still can’t tell them apart, even though they helpfully always stand with Ant on the left.

They tell me that they are sitting in the correct order as they talk to me on a speaker phone.

“We just do it unconsciously now,” says Ant McPartlin, who is usually the first to answer any question – they even do that alphabetically.

Sir David Attenborough is among those who can’t tell them apart, but they don’t mind. They are so good-natured that hardly anything seems to dent their cheery demeanour.

They met the wildlife presenter and TV legend at the recent BAFTA awards, at which they were all winners. Ant and Dec took home two BAFTAs, for entertainment programme for Saturday Night Takeaway and entertainment performance.

Ant says: “I spoke to Sir David Attenborough. I congratulated him on his award and he said ‘Congratulations to you too, Ant and Dec’.

“He didn’t know which one I was, but that really doesn’t matter! I was so excited to meet him.

“Cilla Black was in our row and Martin Freeman was right in front. I’m a massive fan of Sherlock.”

Dec adds: “Mary Berry was just across the aisle from me, which was exciting. You can’t not be star-struck by Mary Berry.”

Not that every fellow BAFTA winner is a fan of Britain’s favourite double act.

Leon Bernicoff from the Channel 4 show Gogglebox says: “I can’t stand Ant and Dec, they’ve done very well with no talent.”

“I don’t care what Leon says,” chuckles Dec. “He may not be a fan of ours, but I’m a fan of his. I love Leon and June, and I love Gogglebox, it’s a brilliant show.”

The lads – we still think of them as young, even though they are nearing 40 – are still on a high from taking home two BAFTA awards.

Unlike the National Television Awards, in which the best entertainment presenter award might as well be named Ant and Dec’s: Hands Off, they have never been particularly successful at the BAFTAs.

They have won 13 NTAs on the trot but only one BAFTA, four years ago.

“We were genuinely surprised,” says Ant.

“We’ve been nominated a fair few times but have only won once. We never expected it, so it was a shock.

“We were quite happy to go home after winning the first award. We wanted to open a bottle of Champagne and wander off, but they insisted we go back to our seats. We had no idea we were going to win another one.”

So where do they keep all their awards?

“Dotted round the house, including in the toilet, so that wherever visitors are, they are well aware of our awards,” smiles Ant.

Dec adds: “A few of them reside up in Newcastle because we’ve given them to our parents.

“It was good to get another BAFTA, because having just the one on the mantelpiece was looking lopsided. It’s balanced out now.”

Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly with their Bafta awards.
Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly with their Bafta awards.
 

The presenters see the awards as a vindication of bringing back Saturday Night Takeaway after a break of four years, and making it even better than before.

So good that they are now taking the show’s format on a live tour, including Birmingham’s LG Arena in August.

Ant says: “We worked harder on the last two series than we had in the past, and I’m glad that was recognised by BAFTA.”

What can we expect from the live show?

“It’ll be just like the best bits of the TV show, but all the audience gets to join in,” says Ant.

“We can’t wait. We are very nervous, as it’s something new and not without its challenges.

“In every single show, one member of the audience gets to play Win the Ads, with prizes including a £12,000 car and an all-inclusive holiday. Not bad, eh?”

Guests in every show include Riverdance and Ashley Roberts, who will oversee the Ant vs Dec challenge.

Dec says: “We had Riverdance on the TV show for the St Patrick’s Day edition and learned a bit of their routine. Who knows, we might be dusting off our shoes and joining in.

“When the audience comes in, they will be split up into Team Ant and Team Dec and will help us with the challenge. It’s down to them who wins.

“There will be lots of other surprises, as people have been contacting us and setting up their friends and family.

“You can’t rest easy if you are in the audience, you never know what’s going to happen next.

“We will also have a series of star guest announcers, who we will try to keep secret.

“We have a list of really fun people who have all said yes, so we’re just working out who will go where.”

The pair first met in 1989 while starring in the BBC children’s drama Byker Grove, and became best friends.

When they left that, they became pop stars as PJ and Duncan, with their biggest hit being Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble.

Presenting jobs followed on shows including The Ant and Dec Show and SMTV Live, alongside Brummie Cat Deeley.

They left children’s television behind to present shows such as Friends Like These, Pop Idol, I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, Britain’s Got Talent and Saturday Night Takeaway.

It was a crowd-pleasing blast from the past when the pair broke into the old dance moves of Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble on Takeaway. That lead to the re-release of the 1994 hit and a number one spot in the charts.

Ant says: “We thought we had got rid of that song a long time ago. We’ll have to ask the audience on the live shows if they want to hear it again.”

Dec adds: “That was the craziest week we have had for a long time.”

So what else will they be getting up to while they’re in Birmingham?

Dec says: “We’ll have a round of golf at the Belfry, and go for the obligatory curry.

“We come to Birmingham every January for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions and always have a great time. Brummies make great audiences.”

* Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway plays three shows on August 9-10 at the LG Arena at Birmingham’s NEC. For tickets, ring 0844 338 8000 or go to www.theticketfactory.com .

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