Ant And Dec Unzipped (Channel 4, 1997)
As I am sharing with you a lot of my TV memories on here, it’s time for a confession – I do like Ant and Dec. The cheeky Geordie duo as they have to be called in every article about them (although they are from Newcastle and there are two of them so I suppose that it is true) have been on TV for about 25 years now but this is one of their more obscure shows.
McPartlin and Donnelly (as no-one has ever called them) first appeared on TV in the early-90s in the drama Byker Grove, and after leaving the show they went on to have a chart-topping pop career as their characters PJ and Duncan. They were so great that they were given a show of their own called, yes, The Ant And Dec Show. However, this show seemed to cause something of a stir with lots of complaints so they decided to leave CBBC.
So their next show was on Channel 4 and it was called Ant And Dec Unzipped. It was sort-of a continuation of their CBBC show but it was aimed at an older audience and shown in an evening slot so they could get away with a little more and it must have left everyone wondering where Hollyoaks had gone.
After starting out as actors and then being pop stars, Ant And Dec Unzipped was essentially their try at being what you could call alternative comedians. The show was written by lots of leading comedy writers and there were various sketches including “Ant’s In Your Pants” where Ant, er, wore a pair of famous underpants, and lots of other odd characters which were performed well. A lot of celebrity guests joined in the fun too.
Despite all of this, Ant And Dec Unzipped was probably their least successful show. It only lasted for one series, the ratings weren’t that great, and there is no Wikipedia entry for it, although there are a few clips on YouTube and it did win a Bafta. I do remember watching the show at the time and I think they deserve credit for trying something a little different and I also remember reading some funny interviews with them when they were promoting the show.
Around the same time as the show ended, their pop career also finished and it’s probably about the only time that Ant and Dec wondered what was next for their career, but about a year later they got the gig to host CITV’s successful Saturday shows SMTV and CDUK and they’ve never really looked back, reinventing themselves again as TV presenters and game show hosts and they remain hugely popular to this day, winning a National Television Award 14 years in a row.
Ant And Dec Unzipped now comes across as one of the more curious moments in their career but I do think that it is a show worth remembering and if you’ve never seen it you should take a look on YouTube as I imagine it won’t be coming out on DVD any time soon.