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Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Ant and Dec grow up
Ant and Dec
So far the duo seem to have done no wrong in TV
By the BBC's Michael Osborn

A double act who have made children's television their own domain have been handed a primetime Saturday slot in a bid to win over the grown-ups.

Ant & Dec have decided that the highly successful format they use on SM:TV for the children will make equally unmissable viewing for the whole family.

Slap Bang With Ant & Dec (ITV) goes out live and is very slickly put together, with the impish Geordie duo taking centre stage for virtually all the hour-long fun fest.

They see themselves as a fully-fledged comedy duo, and kicked off proceedings with a well-staged routine complete with a touch of slapstick.

Ant and Dec
A fully-fledged comedy duo?
But clearly comedy alone is not enough to please the fickle Saturday evening audience, and Slap Bang has a number of tasty morsels to give the viewers at home a reason to stay tuned - drawing on the good old game show tradition and doling out a few prizes.

Everything about this new show is bright, breezy and loud, and the action never stops - save for the commercial breaks.

Soap stars

The boys even whipped their way through a soap opera called Beers, which, of course, was supposed to be side-splittingly hilarious.

But what really seemed amusing was the bevy of soap stars past and present who were roped in to take part.

Tim Vincent, of Emmerdale fame, popped up, and the grand dame of early EastEnders, Anita Dobson, did the old cheery Cockney routine for good measure.

The high-point of the show was the appearance of actress Helen Mirren - and even I believed for a moment that she was to be interviewed seriously by Declan Donnelly.

But then zany Ant chimed in and pretended to be an old pal of Helen's. And of course she was in on the joke as well and a repartee bounced between the youngsters and distinguished actress.

This took me back to the days of the great Morecambe and Wise, who had big stars lining up to be part of their show. But sadly, this was no modern-day version of the classic duo.

Tested

They were in another league, and this sketch invited inevitable comparisons.

Ant & Dec's new show is, in a sense, not a new one - it has taken the best parts of a tried and tested formula, and with two highly popular young presenters at its helm.

It seems to fit well into the torrid Saturday evening slot, but some of the material seemed to come straight from children's television and was at times tiresome.

But this pair seem to be capable of doing no wrong in their television careers, and their zany, madcap approach in front of the cameras will no doubt get plenty of people tuning in.

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