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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 15:00 GMT
Ant and Dec finish on high
Ant and Dec: Concentrating on prime-time careers
Ant and Dec: Concentrating on prime-time careers
Ant and Dec's final Saturday morning ITV show beat BBC One in the ratings by three to one, unofficial viewing figures have shown.

About 2.4 million people tuned in to watch the Geordie duo's final SM:tv and cd:uk, according to the figures.

BBC One's rival The Saturday Show had just 800,000 viewers in comparison.

Mariah Carey, Robbie Williams and a host of stars appeared as the duo made a tearful goodbye to the show which ended the BBC's dominance of Saturday mornings.

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will now concentrate on prime-time shows, such as ITV1's current Pop Idol.

Mariah Carey starred in the final show
Mariah Carey starred in the final show
Carey, pop band Hear'Say, comic Frank Skinner and actress Denise van Outen were among those who took part in the final SM:tv, starring in the spoof sitcom Chums.

On Saturday's show stars such as U2, David Beckham and Sir Paul McCartney were seen giving their memories of the pair, whose shows have revitalised Saturday morning viewing and consistently beaten BBC One.

It's three hours of live TV just messing about - it's been like that for three and a half years

Declan Donnelly
U2 frontman Bono said: "You are one of the great couples of our time."

In Chums, Mariah Carey starred as co-presenter Cat Deeley's maid of honour as she finally "married" Dec.

But she then looked amused and slightly bewildered as the marriage broke down 30 seconds later and the priest, played by Skinner, began to do a striptease.

Cat Deeley carries on show with James Redmond
Cat Deeley is to co-host the show with James Redmond
Asked by Frank Skinner what was so great about the shows, Dec said: "It's three hours of live TV really just messing about, great bands in the studio having a lot of fun. It's been like that for three and a half years."

Ant and Dec began their careers as child actors PJ and Duncan on BBC children's drama Byker Grove, and went on to have chart hits with songs including Let's Get Ready To Rumble and Shout before moving on to presenting.

They found widespread audiences with SM:tv, with celebrity guests, irreverent and off-the-cuff humour and games such as Wonky Donkey, where Dec would get furious with children who could not guess which rhyming animal a fluffy prop represented.

The success of the show led to the demise of BBC One's Live and Kicking, which was axed during last summer after eight years on air.

The Saturday Show was launched to fight off ITV competition
The Saturday Show was launched to fight off ITV competition
The BBC has fought back with The Saturday Show, co-hosted by Dani Behr and Joe Mace.

The programme makers promised a show that was "fresh and funky".

But the show has so far failed to stop the success of SM:tv with viewing figures of about one million - half of their rival's audience.

Ant and Dec's first stab at a later time-slot on ITV was Slap Bang, which suffered disappointing ratings, although ITV has commissioned a second series of the show.

Now critics are asking whether SM:tv and cd:uk will stay successful without the Geordie duo.

Ant and Dec have now been lined up to host a new show on ITV1 from next year, but details have not been revealed.

Co-host Cat Deeley will remain at the helm of SM:tv, to be joined by Hollyoaks actor James Redmond from January 2002.

BBC News Online readers review Ant and Dec's last appearance on SM:tv and cd:ukLast show
Your views on Ant and Dec's last SM:tv
See also:

13 May 01 | TV and Radio
Ant and Dec grow up
26 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Ant and Dec go primetime
23 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Royle night at TV awards
06 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Royal appointment for Ant and Dec
23 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Behr challenges Ant and Dec
01 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Final SM:tv for Ant and Dec
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