24/02/2013 13:36 | By Adam Postans, contributor, MSN TV

Saturday Night Takeaway laughter with Ant & Dec and Louis Walsh

TV review: Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway is back, and the show kicked off with a bellyful of laughs.


Ant and Dec in Saturday Night Takeaway (© Ant and Dec in Saturday Night Takeaway. Image. ITV)


Summary

Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway returned to ITV for the start of its 10th series. Incredibly, it's back after a four-year hiatus.

Highlight

The puppet-master hosts pulling Louis Walsh's invisible strings; they breathed new life into hidden camera pranks with I'm A Celebrity... Get Out Me Ear.

Lowlight

Ant and Dec giving Robbie Williams almost as much airtime as Morrisons throughout the show. Fact is, there were so many other better highlights.

Full review

Shortly after making the most predictable announcement of 2013, that Ant and Dec had won Best Entertainment Presenter at the National Television Awards for the 12th year running, Dermot O'Leary said: "Everyone, but everyone, loves a soap."

It's not true, of course. But adapt that sentiment slightly and you get much closer to the mark. Everyone, but everyone, loves Ant and Dec. But not everything they've ever done on telly.

"Everyone, but everyone, loves Ant and Dec."

I'm A Celebrity and Britain's Got Talent aside, some of their recent ventures have flopped.

If we never see either Push The Button or Red Or Black? return for a third series, I very much doubt anybody will be losing much sleep over them, with the possible exception of Simon Cowell who pumped way too much money into the latter.

The duo launched those two game shows after putting their long-running Saturday Night Takeaway in cold storage, which they defrosted for the first time since 2009 on Saturday.

So much was comfortingly familiar. It was like an old blanket you can't bring yourself to chuck on the scrapheap.

Win The Ads was back, as was the guest announcer (David Walliams kicked off that feature), Ant v Dec, and the opening game where some poor sap was plucked from the studio audience and suitably embarrassed in front of the nation before being compensated with a free holiday.

The researchers had really done their stuff with this segment, as the victim, Sarah, turned out to be a great character and game for a laugh.

ITV2's The Big Reunion's boybands 5ive and 911 singing her mundane tweets with feeling - "22 days until my new hair do... could wet my pants" - was the first of many belly laughs I'm not ashamed to admit.

Little Ant and Dec's not so little return

The joke which Saturday Night Takeaway had waited 10 patient years to deliver was Little Ant and Dec outgrowing their namesakes; it was well worth the wait.

Little Ant turned out, by the looks of things, to be the lovechild of Strictly Come Dancing's Artem Chigvintsev and Big Brother 1 winner Craig Phillips.

His forehead measuring stick during the Apprentice-style search for the next Little Ant and Dec was a lovely touch.

Then again, the entire feature was inspired, even though we've seen more Apprentice parodies on telly than Apprentice firings; Ant and Dec as a cheekier Lord Sugar(s), naming their hopefuls 'Little Little Ant and Dec' in the presence of the then-current Little Ant and Dec, the little kids in the boardroom and that theme tune from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet - it all worked a treat.

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    Yes - it was very funny
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The resulting new Little Ant and Dec are suitably cute. Those Hollywood stars won't know what's hit them.

Even the new section of the programme, I'm A Celebrity... Get Out Me Ear, was proof that only Ant and Dec can pull off a hidden camera prank and not make it look tired, which they did with the help of Louis Walsh.

He came across as an utter fool by obeying the pair's commands via an earpiece during what looked very much like the X Factor judge's ITV audition to keep his job on the panel.

However, the end result was worth it; Louis showed that he can be a good sport, as did the builders who were also Ant and Dec's victims.

When Saturday Night Takeaway was shelved four years ago, it had become jaded. It needed a long break.

That its return should be so welcome says two things; the backbone of the show still stands the test of time, and Saturday night television right now is abysmal.

But that's not the fault of Ant and Dec who, to their credit, have retained the best parts of what is a decent bit of primetime nonsense. It's not new, it's not original, but really, who cares. It's perfect light entertainment for Saturday night.

  • Verdict: Saturday Night Takeaway is still head and shoulders above its competition.

    Star grade

What people on Twitter said

@catdeeley (TV's Cat Deeley) - "What a return! #SNT takeaway was pure class definitely worth the wait! @antanddec better make room for more NTA's! Love this."

@MisterVivian - "My timeline is buzzing with #SNT tweets. This is what we want TV people! Not manufactured reality garbage all the time."

@rozlaws - "Good to see Ant and Dec back on Saturday nights. And in something entertaining, not Red or Black. #snt"

The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft

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