There’s been a trial separation of sorts, we’ve had plenty of time to get used to the idea – it is now time for Ant and Dec to call it a day.
We’ve had nearly three decades of them as a duo in entertainment, right back to Byker Grove and the times PJ and Duncan scaled the music charts through to SMTV and a million shows on primetime TV.
So they’ve certainly had a good run. Their longevity and success as a duo has been outstanding. And they’ve made a lot of money along the way.
This is not a popular point of view with the rest of Entertainment Daily!, but it is best both Ant and Dec look for newer challenges away from each other to refresh their careers… and maybe even set them free to climb higher telly heights.
There’s always been the (slightly unfair) sense Dec is the smoother presenter of the two.
He’s the anchor who will confidently throw to the ad break on the button during a live show, a host to trust to be able to get things back on track and deliver all the key messages if the scripted chaos becomes a little too unruly. Good old dependable Dec.
Dec’s also been the tickled foil to Ant’s more electric presence and fiery wisecracks who cues up a similar reaction from those watching at home.
That’s not to say Ant is lacking any skills when he steps in front of the camera. He can fulfil any role going in their partnership – from a sympathetic shoulder to the fool to the fall guy (even if Dec does tend to be the butt of their jokey mutual teasing more often).
Arguably, and to me, he has a more eye-catching presence than Dec, with an energy that means he often becomes the complete focus when taking his turn to perform, even though Dec has always been right there on the right (or Ant’s left).
The fact the two have always come as a package means there has always been a ceiling to how far they can go. But it won’t take much for either star to shed the impression they’re part of a BOGOF bundle, and shine by themselves.
After teaming with Holly Willoughby for I’m A Celebrity and his impressive if imperfect outing as solo host for Saturday Night Takeaway earlier this year, I think it is clear Dec needs to carve his own presenting path away from Ant.
Ant was certainly missed from the ITV jungle series. And while Holly may have been slightly overrated by TV viewers that nonetheless absolutely adored her for what she brought to the show, it just wasn’t the same as with Ant.
The truth is it was better.
However, Holly’s main contribution in retrospect – especially if she does not return for another stint on I’m A Celebrity in any capacity next year – may be seen as demonstrating how telly’s finest combo can survive and thrive away from each other.
Dec looked very comfortable in being the show veteran to me, allowing Holly to take the limelight but also growing in presence himself. Indeed, he seemed to reveal a cheekier side to his presenting banter.
A side that was not simply dependent on being saucier around a female colleague for cheap laughs, but rather one that was made possible as he filled the space vacated by Ant by bringing different parts of his repertoire to the fore.
Dec needs space to grow. It isn’t you Ant, it’s him. But it is you, too – and after Ant’s debilitating personal problems, it may serve him better to work on projects on his own terms, rather than those that have been negotiated as a collaborator.
For the sake of his health and happiness, Ant’s decisions need to be about him.
No doubt the idea of a TV future without Ant and Dec will upset many fans, but there could always be an inevitable reunion down the line. We’re sure they’d stay friends.
Hopefully Ant and Dec are both ready to strike out on their own. And maybe even see other people and try new things. It is always tough when a good relationship comes to an end.
2019 should be the year they step out of each other’s shadow.
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