Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (referred to simply as Saturday Night Takeaway or SNT) is a British television variety show, created and presented by Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly (colloquially known as Ant & Dec), and broadcast on ITV since its premiere on 8 June 2002, enduring a three-year hiatus between 2010–2012, while its presenters worked on other projects. The show's format, heavily influenced by previous Saturday night light entertainment shows such as Noel's House Party, Opportunity Knocks and Don't Forget Your Toothbrush, focuses on a mixture of live and pre-recorded entertainment and quiz segments, including an audience-based quiz involving the television adverts during a week's episode of one of ITV's programmes, and a competition in each series between the two presenters.
The programme proved an immense success for the broadcaster since its launch, earning several awards including Best Presenters at the 18th National Television Awards and the BAFTA for Entertainment Programme in 2013, as well as earning awards for the presenters. It success led to several international versions being created, though most have been short-lived, as well as a special mini-series of episodes involving an adventure of Ant & Dec, that were later broadcast as a special episode during the Christmas TV season. An official Saturday Night Takeaway iOS app for iPod, iPhone and iPad was released on 15 February 2013. Since the thirteenth series, the programme airs its series finales in location outside of the UK, with the exception of the sixteenth series due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and celebrated its 100th episode on 3 March 2018.
Up until 2018, episodes were broadcast live from Studio 1 at The London Studios. Following the permanent closure of the site after the fifteenth series, the programme moved to Studio TC1 at the Television Centre in West London in 2020. The sixteenth series is the only series in the programme's history to feature pre-recorded episodes, due to events in 2020 (such as the outbreak of coronavirus).
The general set up for each episode is a selection of segments consisting of specially crafted games, comedy/entertainment films, participation by either a studio audience member, or unsuspecting viewer/public member, and a show finale consisting of a performance by a musician, dance group, singer, or group performers. Episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway are broadcast live during the weekend, during a prime time slot on Saturday evenings for the entire run of a series. Each episode is introduced with a line-up of what segments will be featured during its broadcast, along with an introduction of the hosts themselves - from the seventh series onwards, this responsibility was given to a special celebrity announcer, who would not only give an introduction of themselves and the hosts, but would also state what viewers would expect in the show for that episode, along with an update on what was still to come before each commercial break in the programme. In the majority of episodes, the opening titles are preceded by a cold open scene involving the hosts performing a comedy sketch, similar to the cold openings of US light entertainment programme Saturday Night Live and usually with celebrity guests for the episode, which ended with them or the celebrities saying - "Roll the titles!"
Throughout the show's history, the programme has featured a variety of different segments, some based on notable elements in Saturday night TV. However, Saturday Night Takeaway features a regular selection of segments that it uses frequently in the majority of its episodes. These segments include:
- An Audience Member's Game - Played at the beginning of an episode, the segment focuses on the presenters initially picking on certain audience members over something embarrassing about them. However, the last person picked takes part in a specially themed game just for them, in which they receive a prize regardless of the outcome. Research for the game usually is done by the production team, via input from relations and close friends who nominated the participant for this.
- Ant vs. Dec - Played throughout a series, the presenters compete against each other in a number of themed challenges, in which neither presenter knows what each challenge is about. The winner of the game earns a point, and at the end of the series, the winner is the one to have the highest score; the loser is forced to undertake a forfeit during the series finale. The segment originally was designed as a surprise challenge for the two presenters, entitled "What's Next", in which neither pair knew what the challenge was, but had to work together to complete it. Between the eighth and ninth series, the presenters were joined by a team of celebrities who partook in the games. The segment is joined by a co-presenter, who gives out the rules and relay the results of the challenge, and is sometimes joined by a commentator during the challenge.
- Ant & Dec Undercover - The presenters pull a prank on a selected celebrity, involving scripted scenes, such as a situation going wrong for their target. The prank would sometimes include the pair being on scene with their target, but in specially made disguises. The footage is shown with the celebrity in question present in the studio to watch it and to display their reactions towards what occurred when it was filmed. The segment was introduced in the second series, dropped after the fifth series, and then revived for the tenth series onwards.
- I'm a Celebrity... Get Out of Me Ear! - Similar to "Undercover" and introduced in the tenth series, the presenters give a celebrity a concealed ear piece, and task them with doing whatever the pair instruct them to do before unsuspecting public members. Such instructions often involving doing or saying anything bizarre, weird, or downright silly.
- Singalong Live - The presenters surprise three unsuspecting viewers, who become contestants in a karaoke-style quiz. Each is tasked with singing a segment of a song that is being sung by its artist, whereupon they must correctly identify a word that is missing from it. If they correctly identify the missing word, the viewer wins £500. The segment was first introduced in the eleventh series.
- Read My Lips - This segment, introduced in the thirteenth series, focuses on a contestant giving answers to questions to the guest announcer, via Skype. However, the announcer wears noise-cancelling headphones, meaning that they have to read the contestant's lips to get the answer. If the contestant manage to get the announcer to give out three correct answers, they win a place on the series finale taking place outside of the UK.
- Best Seats In The House/Sofa Watch - These segments focuses on viewer participation in a special game that offers a place in the studio audience for the following episode, with the exception of the series' finale. The segment takes place during the initial minutes of the episodes, in which viewers are shown several sofas (usually around 4) that are hidden in various locations in the UK, as shown by live-streaming via a on-site camera for each sofa. To win a place, the viewers must be within range of the location and be seated on the sofa in order to win when the presenters check to see who has found the sofas at a later stage in the episode.
- Win A Week Off Work - Introduced in Series 16. This segment involves Stephen Mulhern going to an office and has those who work there take part in various games with the last person standing winning a week off work and a holiday.
- Win the Ads - Often the penultimate segment, a member of the audience is randomly selected to take part in a quiz to win a series of prizes. Prior to the show's broadcast, an ITV programme that had been broadcast during the week is randomly selected, whereupon the adverts broadcast during its commercial break(s) are used to create the prizes. Before the quiz begins, the prizes are placed onto a grid, concealed and randomly rearranged, before being given a number. The contestant is set amount of time (usually 60 seconds) to answer as many questions as they can - questions are based on that week's news stories, with each correct answer allowing the contestant to pick a number as their prize at the end. After time is up, the contestant is given the option to take their prizes, or gamble for the chance of winning all the prizes if they answer correctly one final question. The segment was originally used during the first series, and featured three people competing for the chance to win up to twenty prizes, with a consolation prize of a toilet roll given to any contestant that gambled and lost. The segment didn't return until the tenth series, which retained most of the format, but in favour of just having one contestant. From the thirteenth series onwards, the format was amended again, reducing the number of prizes to sixteen and dropping the use of a consolation prize.
- "End of the Show" Show - The final segment of an episode, it focus on a big entertainment act to help finish off an episode's broadcast. From the first series to the ninth, it was mostly a musical act - singer, pop group and so forth - performing their latest hit in the charts. When the show returned from its hiatus, the segment's format was changed to become a musical number, which would be performed by the presenters alongside a special guest star(s).
The following is a list of segments used on the programme in the course of its history, that have since been retired:
- Grab the Ads (Series 1–9) - Run for nine series, the segment focused on one randomly chosen viewer taking part in a prize give out. Viewers are initially asked to phone in for a place in the segment, with the chosen viewer receiving one of nine prizes on offer. Each prize was hidden behind a number - 1 to 9 - and whichever number was chosen was the prize that viewer got. In the first series, the format focused on the viewer picking a number from a grid upon being chosen, but for the majority of series, the number was generated through a game that was played by a different celebrity; after the prize was revealed, the presenters would announce the viewer who had been chosen to receive it. It's discontinuation came down to the production team opting to use the more commercial "Win the Ads" game whenSaturday Night Takeaway returned for its tenth series.
- Banged Up with Beadle (Series 1) - This segment functioned liked a spoof of a reality show, in which each week, a different member of the public was chosen to spend seven days locked up in a dungeon at Spitbank Fort in the Solent, with Jeremy Beadle. When they appeared live in the episode on Saturday, they were given a task, in which they won £5,000 if successful. The segment featured a spin-off ITV2 show of the same name, presented by Donna Air and Brendan Courtney, to rival that of Channel 4's smash hit series Big Brother.
- Make Ant Laugh (Series 1) - This segment focused on a contestant chosen by the show, attempting to impress Ant by making him laugh. If they succeeded, they won a trophy, otherwise they were gunged on the episode. The format was similar in nature to the Challenge Ant segment of SMTV Live.
- Jim Didn't Fix It (Series 1–3) - This segment functioned as a spoof version of the format for Jim'll Fix It, in which an audience member who had written to Jimmy Savile in their youth for the means to fulfil their dreams but had never been lucky to receive it, were given the chance to realise their dreams years later.
- Home Run (Series 1–3, 15, 16) - This segment focused on unsuspecting members of the public being surprised by the presenters at a public location they were in, shown to viewers and the studio audience via hidden cameras set up at the location. The members selected by the show take part in a race to get back to their home immediately for a cash prize of £3,000. The person(s), regardless of being successful, would then be forced to read an oath in which they stated that they must never go out on Saturday nights again. The segment was briefly revived as part of the programme's 100th episode celebrations in 2018.
- Opportunity Knocks, Again (Series 2–5) - Based upon Opportunity Knocks, the format focused on members of the studio audience, who had previously performed on the show, to repeat their act on Saturday Night Takeaway.
- Saturday Cash Takeaway (Series 3) - This segment focused on a member of the studio audience randomly selecting one of nine popular takeaways, each being delivered to their customers. The one chosen would then be stuffed with £1,000, which the unsuspecting customer could receive, along with their food, if they answered a question correctly from their front door.
- Saturday Night Pub Olympics (Series 4) - This segment focused the production team selecting a random pub across the country, in which a number of unsuspecting customers visiting it would be invited to take part in a series of sporting events, dubbed the "Saturday Night Pub Olympics". The members taking part, are split into two teams, and face other against each other in three different events, with Dickie Davies providing commentary on proceedings.
- Beat the Boys (Series 6–8) - This segment focused on the presenters competing against a pair of celebrities in a specially themed time-trail event. Each pair would drive around a specially created course in a specific type of vehicle, and attempt to set a fast lap time. For each episode that the segment was featured in, the course included a specially designed set of obstacles that both pairs had to complete correctly; any not completed correctly would incur a ten-second penalty to the pair's lap time.
- Jiggy Bank (Series 6–7) - This segment focused on a studio audience member being randomly chosen to take part in a special game with a cash prize. The game focused on them riding a robotic pig, like a rodeo, and holding for as long as possible, with their time affecting the amount of money they won. A maximum of £5,000 was on offer, and any money not won went into a jackpot for "Grab the Ads".
- The Mouse Trap (Series 8–9) - This segment focused on a viewer being randomly picked to take part in a special game. The chosen viewer is given one minute to collect as much cheese from a specially created maze as they could possibly get and escape the maze before time ran out. Each piece of cheese collected was worth £1,000, with a total of five pieces to collect. If the contestant failed to get out of the maze in time, they would lose and be locked in the maze by "Tiddles the Takeaway Cat".
- Escape from Takeaway Prison (Series 9) - This segment focused on twenty celebrities being imprisoned in a fictional prison of the show, in which they competed against each other in a series of games, to win their freedom.
- A Ticket To Slide (Series 12) - This segment focused on the presenters choosing a random member of the public to take part in a special game, in which they, along with their friends and family, had to collect keys while travelling down an inflatable slide. If enough keys were collected, the contestant would win tickets for a vacation to New York.
- Little Ant & Dec (Series 2−6, 10-14) - Two young "look-alikes" of the presenters, nicknamed "Little Ant" and "Little Dec", meet with celebrities and ask them blunt questions regarding various subjects, which sometimes bamboozled the interviewee into giving some surprisingly straight answers. From its introduction in the second series to the end of the sixth series, the look-alikes were played by James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw. When the segment was revived for the tenth series onwards, both Pallister and McKenna-Redshaw were too old to resume their roles, leading to them being replaced by Neil Overend and Haydn Reid. The segment was dropped after the fourteenth series, when the production team decided that both Overend and Reid were too old to continue in these roles and should be allowed to focus on their education.
- In for a Penny (Series 14-15) - Hosted by Stephen Mulhern and pre-recorded before an episode, this segment focuses on members of public being approached by Mulhern and taking part in a special gameshow, so long as they can provide a penny. Each contestant takes part in five rounds - four focusing on different challenges, and the final focusing on stopping at a selected number of seconds (i.e. stopping between 9-10 seconds) - and should they complete all five, they win £1,000, otherwise the game ends. At the end of Series 15, ITV confirmed that the segment would be spun-off as its own show.
Filming for every episode is done both live, for studio segments and off-site broadcasts across the country, and pre-recorded for filmed segments. Live studio segments since the show premiered took place from Studio 1 at The London Studios, and included the backstage areas near to the studio for various sketches and banter by the presenters. Although the presenters are the primary cast members of Saturday Night Takeaway, the show also employs a variety of co-stars who would handle off-site segments. After 2018, live studio segments would cease to be conducted at London Studios following the conclusion of the fifteenth series, owing to the site's imminent closure and sale. Filming for the live studio segments were moved to Studio TC1 at the Television Centre in West London, operated and owned by BBC Studioworks, in time for the sixteenth series launch in February 2020. In March 2020, the programme suspended live studio segments, assigning these to pre-recording in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2016, the production staff and the programme's creators decided to air live finales abroad in other locations, as part of a new prize-giving format involving the provision of travel holiday packages to lucky recipients within the audience and around the country. The first finale to be filmed under this new format element took place aboard the MV Britannia while it was docked in Spain during its cruise journey. The format's success led to further sites abroad being used including Walt Disney World, Florida in 2017, and Universal Orlando in 2018. However, the finale for the 2020 series was originally planned for Walt Disney World, Florida for a second time, but was later retained within the UK at the home of the presenters, as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Presents...
During the thirteenth series, the show aired a mini-serial of a spoof "whodunnit", comedy drama, starring Ant & Dec. Entitled "Who Shot Simon Cowell?", the serial focused on the pair becoming caught up in a mystery surrounding an incident at Cowell's birthday party, in which Cowell is mysteriously gunned down, leading to them working together to solve who did the deed. Along with themselves, the serial also featured appearances from a variety of celebrities, many of whom either worked with/had worked with the pair and/or Cowell. The format was well liked, and led to a second mini-serial being created for the fourteenth series, entitled "The Missing Crown Jewels", in which the presenters became members of a special organisation called "Honoured", after receiving OBEs, whereupon their first mission is to recover the crown jewels from a mysterious villain. Both mini-serial were later condensed into a special feature-length episodes under the title of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Presents..., and broadcast in late December 2017. A third mini-serial was later created for the fifteenth series, entitled "Saturday Knight Takeaway", with the plot focusing on the presenters' tackling their second mission for the Honoured by finding out who is kidnapping its members, including the organisations' leader. A fourth mini-serial was created for the sixteenth series, entitled "Men in Brown", a parody of Men in Black, which follows the hosts after they join a special organisation that deals with aliens and extraterrestial creatures.
Ant & Dec Takeaway on Tour
On 31 October 2013, it was announced that a live tour of the show, under the title "Takeaway on Tour", would be co-produced between Ant & Dec, James Grant Live, and ITV Studios. Presented by the show's hosts, with Kim Gavin as the tour's artistic director, it featured appearances by various celebrities and performers and a number of segments from the programme, including an appearance by Ashley Roberts as the host of the tour's version of "Ant vs. Dec".
Demand for tickets was high, and led to extra dates and venues being added on 28 November 2013, along with some shows having their dates rearranged. The tour ran for only one series of shows, between August - September 2014 across various cities in the United Kingdom, including London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow, and also in Dublin, Ireland.
The opening theme is performed by Audiofreaks and Jenna Donnelly.
I just can't wait till Saturday (oh, yay, yay)
I just can't wait till Saturday
I can't wait till Saturday
I just can't wait till Saturday
I can't wait for
A board game of the show was released in 2016, under licensing by Paul Lamond Games.
The success of Saturday Night Takeaway led to the creation of a number of international versions:
- A Finnish version of the programme, entitled Huuma (Enchantment in English) was aired on MTV3. Premiering in March 2005, it ran for four years before it was axed in 2009. The show featured its own take on notable segments, such as "Little Ant & Dec" and "Win the Ads", and featured various hosts presenting it.
- A Chinese version of the programme was launched on 11 January 2008. Entitled Friday Night Takeaway（快乐2008 in Chinese), it was broadcast on Hunan TV, and hosted by He Jiong and Ma Ke.
- Two German versions of the programme were created. The first version, made in 2005, was cancelled after just one episode was shown on Sat.1. The second version was launched on 29 August 2008, under the title Die Sonja & Dirk Show, and had better success. Created for RTL Television, it was hosted by Sonja Zietlow and Dirk Bach, both of whom were known for presenting the German version of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, and featured a similar format to the British original in terms of segments. The programme ran for four years before it was axed, following the death of Bach on 1 October 2012.
- A Portuguese version named Sabadabadão was launched on 10 May 2014. Broadcast on SIC, and co-produced by FremantleMedia, it was hosted by Júlia Pinheiro and João Baião, and ran for only one series of twelve episodes before it was axed.
- An American version of the programme was launched on 15 September 2015. Announced the previous year on 27 October 2014, it was entitled Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (referred to also as Best Time Ever), presented by Neil Patrick Harris, and produced by NBC as part of their Tuesday night entry for 2015–16 television season. The show ran for one season, ending on 3 November 2015, before it was announced on 15 December, later that year, that it had been cancelled.
- A French version of the programme was launched on 11 February 2015. Announced the previous month, it was entitled Tout Peut Arriver ("Anything Could Happen"), aired on M6, and hosted by Guillaume Pley and Jerome Anthony. The show performed poorly in the ratings and was cancelled after airing three episodes, the third of which was aired on W9.
- In October 2015, Australian network Seven announced plans to create an Australian version of the British original, intended to be aired on Sundays under the title of Sunday Night Takeaway, though no further announcements were made by Seven following this, and their plans were later dropped amidst claims it was focusing efforts on another project. On 19 May 2018, Network Ten officially announced plans to create an Australian version, under the same proposed title, and to be hosted by Julia Morris and Chris Brown, both of whom host the Australian version of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, later confirming that year on 9 September that the pair had been secured as hosts and that the show was intended to be broadcast in 2019. It was announced in early February that Chris & Julia's Sunday Night Takeaway would premiere on 24 February 2019.