Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Sunday, 30 August 2009 09:08 UK

Ant and Dec to host family show

Ant and Dec
Ant and Dec spoke at the Edinburgh TV Festival

TV presenters Ant and Dec have revealed they are rehearsing a new show for ITV, based around families.

The pair told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival there were not many programmes that showed "modern British families".

The show will be "slightly more formatted" than Saturday Night Takeaway and will feature the 33-year-old stars competing with families.

The duo said it should be broadcast next spring.

Real families

Declan Donnelly told the Edinburgh audience: "Our first gig in prime time in the late 90s was Friends Like These on the BBC, which was a game show.

"The pitch for it at the time was - friends are the new family.

"That was 10 years ago. That has turned a bit and we now feel family is the new family. There aren't any shows which display real families on screen."

Anthony McPartlin added: "It will loosely be us and two families competing.

"We love the Britain's Got Talent audition process. We love working and interacting and responding to the public.

"It is good fun. A lot of shows out there don't feature that family dynamic any more. Even Family Fortunes is a celebrity version."

The Edinburgh event, hosted by Mark Austin was billed as an alternative to the keynote MacTaggart lecture, which was delivered by James Murdoch.

The Geordie duo looked back at their careers, which began with Byker Grove in the early 1990s.

After a brief spell as pop stars, they learned their live TV craft on Saturday morning children's programmes.

The whole episode was damaging to the industry
Declan Donnelly

Ant said: "It is a real shame that we don't have children's TV on terrestrial channels on a Saturday morning any more.

"That is where we learnt our trade. There was no real pressure. You could fall flat on your face and just carry on."

Host Mark Austin asked about their role as executive producers on Saturday Night Takeaway.

The programme was among several on ITV found to be rigging competition phone lines but the pair distanced themselves from the scandal.

Ant said: "We make executive decisions on the creative content of the show and always have done.

Dec added: "The whole episode was damaging to the industry. It was a horrible time for all of us. I think we learned a lot from it. We were able to put in place all the safeguards that will ensure it will never happen again."

The stars, who are reported to be among the highest earners on British TV, said they did not lead "flashy lives" and always attempted not to display their wealth.

Ant said: "We work for a commercial broadcaster and we are paid the going rate. It is different and the argument is more heated when you talk about stars who work for the BBC, but we work for ITV."

Primetime audience

Asked by Austin if he was prepared to take to pay cut, he said "yes" before Dec warned him not to be too hasty.

"You have to be realistic," Ant said.

"If the whole of the industry is suffering then it would be naive of us to assume we would not suffer too."

Dec added: "In comparison to a lot of jobs and a lot of other careers it is a lot of money.

"But the shows we make are very successful and the broadcaster makes a lot of money out of that and we get paid proportionately."

The duo said the recent failure of the BBC's Totally Saturday showed that it was a very difficult to succeed with a prime time audience.

They then defended shows such as Britain's Got Talent, which have been accused of exploiting vulnerable contestants such as Susan Boyle and Hollie Steel.

Ant said: "Susan Boyle performed three times on the show. The show didn't camp paparazzi outside her house, the show didn't put it in the newspapers. I personally believe that every care was taken with Susan Boyle and they looked after her very well indeed."

Dec defended the treatment of 10-year-old singer Hollie Steel, who broke down in tears on the show.

Live performance

"She wants to be a performer, she chose to come along and her parents chose to support her coming along to the audition," he said.

Another of their shows, I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, is entering its 9th series.

The pair insisted it was not running out of steam despite the demise of reality show Big Brother.

They said I'm a Celebrity... had a much shorter run than Big Brother and was "event television".

The pair also host Britain's Got Talent. Dec said he was not sure about X Factor's move to auditions in front of a live audience.

He said: "I think it is a very big audience to be auditioning in front of.

"I personally thought it was better in the audition room. I thought the intimacy of the audition room and then to go from that audition room to the boot camps and into the studio was a much more logical journey."

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