Did I miss the memo, by any chance? Did I not quite take in all the minutes from the last meeting? Have I been hiding under a rock for too long? Should I even bother crawling out from under my rock to ask questions no-one will care to answer? Certainly don’t answer that last one, I know what you think already. But whatever I’ve missed it gives me no pleasure at all to confront the fact that Britain really doesn’t seem to get enough time with Ant and Dec. When did we get driven so low? When did we finally roll over and just let these two cheeky irritants consume our every waking hour (or at least every waking hour on ITV) with their interminable, thick-as-chops jollity and relentless, harmless banter? And, most importantly, when did they go from being an occasional, albeit very mild, treat to being about as much fun as running into a crocodile sanctuary whilst on fire? All these questions deserve a plausible answer and yet I fear I may be in the minority: as someone who is aware of And and Dec and yet can’t see the point of them anymore. I would offer to defenestrate the pair of them but I fear they might think that would be a word for some kind of fun (which it would be, for one of us at least).
Perhaps I’m being a little too harsh, but let’s look at their track record so far (which I am going to present without recourse to any research whatsoever). First they popped up in a fluorescent pool of sick called Byker Grove, the plot of which was rendered unfathomable to anyone living south of Whitby, partly due to the clotted Tyneside accents and partly because it featured lots of witless teenagers who, unlike today’s teenagers, at least had the courtesy to admit they didn’t have a fucking clue what they were talking about in the first place. Byker Grove led to a brief career in music, or rather a brief career in unbearable sound, and a certain ditty called ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble’, a song that any visiting alien race would consider ample justification alone for wiping out all human life, such is it’s lack of any notable virtue bar the fact it does at some point end and thus concede to silence. From there And and Dec seemed to lift off into a kind of substance-free, feather-light entertainment stratosphere where they have stayed ever since, winning award after award, year after year, many of them voted for by a general public who have spent most of their lives on the sofa wondering what all the other buttons on their remote control are for.
Personally I have never watched a second of their Saturday Night Takeaway, and I quickly left Britain’s Got Talent on the hard shoulder, next to a bottle of truck driver’s piss, many years ago when I realised that Britain and I had very different ideas of what talent looked like. Of late I have been mildly distracted by Limitless Win, but this is chiefly because it is so fucking dreadful and clunky and thoughtless and over-complicated and mind-blowingly drawn out. It also features couples that are there as much to be on TV as they are to win money, which says all you need to know about a lot of things on TV that you don’t really need to know anything about at all. And that leaves I’m A Celebrity….. which used to be good, then became merely OK and is now the sort of show that Matt Hancock does well at, for better or worse. To say that I’m A Celebrity….. has become stale is a sweeping, bloated understatement. It has already been fast asleep for years and is now about as vibrant as Benny Hill, when they finally found him in his flat, making a terrible honk. Perhaps it’s I’m A Celebrity….. that needs to be defenestrated, just to let some much needed fresh air into the schedule, and yet, somewhat sadly, ITV has chosen to extend the franchise and bring out a new edition for Easter, which is about as welcome and relevant as, er, Easter.
And yet they will watch in their hordes. Some will watch some, and many will watch all. They will watch celebrities with varying levels of charisma and in clawing need for a publicity boost do ridiculous things with and to each other in the African bush (it’s a shame one of the tasks isn’t a dignity hunt) and then they will pick up their phones and vote for the one they deem has suffered the least or avoided the most or cried the quickest or simply the one who has eaten the biggest hyena anuses and washed back the most elephant semen smoothies. By moving this one to Africa we’ll be tricked into thinking it will be different but it won’t, it will be exactly the same, only somewhere else (I won’t spoil it too much for you but at first glance most of these celebrities have done this at least once before) and yet another familiar trip to the celebrity pawn shop to trade in another part of what’s left of their souls for hard cash and empty headlines. And while Ant and Dec will laugh away at the desperation of it all we mustn’t lose fact of the true reality: they are the worst of the lot. This is a couple of Peter Pan twats who are so permanently anxious for love and affection and camera crew laughter that, despite all their success, they are still prepared to bend over and take one each for some Santander advert money, something even cheaper than eating animal arseholes on safari. I don’t think I can watch this anymore, though I would give it a few seconds of my time just to see Amir Khan lose a fight with a rhino or Gary Glitter being mauled by a water buffalo; he’s not in it but he may as well be – at least there will be reliable 24 hour surveillance). And if the rumours are true I’d happily watch Liz Truss being dragged from the camp by a lion and Ant and Dec loudly shit themselves empty when a pair of black mambas slither up their shorts. But more of the usual usual? No thanks. Even Easter looks a better prospect. Surely it’s time that Ant and Dec start thinking about getting themselves out of here too. Surely.
G B Hewitt. 01.04.2023