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Tuesday, 7 November, 2000, 10:08 GMT
Ant and Dec leave BBC
Ant and Dec
Ant and Dec: SM:TV has boosted their career
Television duo Ant and Dec are to quit the BBC after talks over a new series of their show Friends Like These broke down.

The corporation said on Tuesday that it would be making a new series of the Saturday night show, but it would be looking for new presenters.

Anthony McPartlin, 24, and Declan Donnelly, 25, already host ITV's hugely successful SM:TV Live Saturday morning series - which has more than double the audience of the BBC's Live & Kicking.

A BBC spokesman said: "It is a shame that negotiations with Ant and Dec for another series of Friends Like These next year have broken down.

"However, we think they are fantastic and the door is always open for them to come back to the BBC."

The duo first appeared on screen in the early 1990s as playing cheeky duo PJ and Duncan in BBC children's drama Byker Grove.

They left in 1994 to start a musical career, and shortly after they presented their first entertainment show, Ant and Dec Unzipped, for Channel 4.

SM:TV Live's success, which has overhauled the BBC's traditional dominance of Saturday children's TV, has boosted Ant and Dec's popularity with viewers and TV executives.

The pair recently signed up to host the 2001 Brit Awards for ITV.

See also:

08 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Live & Kicking gets new look
04 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Live & Kicking duo depart
27 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Forsyth quits ITV in fury
14 Jun 00 | Football
Lynam boosts ITV bid
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