Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway returns marks BIGGEST ITV audience of the year as the show kicks off FINAL SERIES with viewership reaching up to…

Saturday Night Takeaway’s return for its final series drew in ITV’s biggest overnight audience of the year a peak of 5.6m viewers tuned in to the launch episode.

It also marked the biggest Entertainment show on the channel this year, however the viewership is still a far cry from the show’s heydey audience of 11.1million.

An average of 4.9million were tuned in to watch hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly launch their 20th and final series of the show.

The presenters had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series as the duo made a return to the screens on the programme which first aired in 2002.

ITV’s live variety show sees the return of popular segments including undercover prank, with music mogul Simon Cowell as the first victim.Saturday Night Takeaway 's return for its final series drew in ITV's biggest overnight audience of the year a peak of 5.6m viewers tuned in to the launch episode
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Saturday Night Takeaway ‘s return for its final series drew in ITV’s biggest overnight audience of the year a peak of 5.6m viewers tuned in to the launch episode

Throwing back to the past, they shared a picture of themselves from the very first series
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Throwing back to the past, they shared a picture of themselves from the very first series

It also marked the biggest Entertainment show on the channel this year, however the viewership is still a far cry from the show's heydey audience of 11.1million (pictured with Little Ant and Dec)
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It also marked the biggest Entertainment show on the channel this year, however the viewership is still a far cry from the show’s heydey audience of 11.1million (pictured with Little Ant and Dec)

Throwing back to the past, they shared a picture of themselves from the very first series, from June 8 2002 – their first show.

Dec opened the show, saying: ‘Hello and welcome to a brand new series of your Saturday Night Takeaway.’

After they were greeted by rapturous applause, Ant said: ‘You’re a brilliant audience – welcome to the show everyone and welcome to series 20.’

Dec added: ‘I actually can’t believe the first episode of Saturday Night Live was almost 22 year ago,’ before they showed a photo of the pair from their first show.

In the weeks before Ant and Dec made the announcement their show was coming to and end, it saw ratings hit an all-time low as millions of viewers deserted the newly-released 19th series.

Audience figures across the series hit as low as an average of 4.1million, while its launch episode also hit an all-time low compared to its previous years.

Its launch episode, which aired on February 25 2023, were at their lowest since the variety show launched on ITV in 2002, with an average audience of just 4.9million.

Two years ago, 7.3million viewers tuned in for the series’ opening episode, meaning the show have lost a third of their audience.

They had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series of their show Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend
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They had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series of their show Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend

ITV 's live variety show sees the return of popular segments including undercover prank, with music mogul Simon Cowell as the first victim
+7
View gallery

ITV ‘s live variety show sees the return of popular segments including undercover prank, with music mogul Simon Cowell as the first victim

Their viewership then fell to 5.7million in 2022, with Saturday Night Takeaway once again seeing a steady decline in its audience numbers.

Marking disappointment for the beloved show, the figures dropped a further 500,000 for the 19th series’ second episode, which aired on March 4 this year.

Despite high-profile celebrity talent including David Tennant, Tom Grennan and Mimi Webb featuring across the two episodes, it failed to secure the same viewership.

The trend continued later in the series as its third episode on March 11, which featured Claudia Winkleman, draw in an average of 4.5million viewers and a peak of 5.5million.

On March 18, an average of 4.3million people tuned in for the Saturday night show, with viewers peaking at 4.9million.

Its fifth episode, which aired on March 25, raked in an average of a mere 4.1million average viewers, peaking at 4.7million.

The presenters had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series as the duo made a return to the screens on the programme which first aired in 2002 (pictured in 2006)
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The presenters had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series as the duo made a return to the screens on the programme which first aired in 2002 (pictured in 2006)

Meanwhile, the following week saw a slight increase – but still remained below the opening episode and its previous records – as an average of 4.6million viewers turned in.

Its final episode, which aired on April 8, saw just 4.3million average viewers watching the jam-packed show, peaking at 5million.

At Saturday Night Takeaway’s peak popularity, in March 2020, it drew in 11.1million viewers.

The show’s combination of live, high energy, feel good fun has seen the format achieve multiple BAFTA and National Television Awards since launching in 2002.

Kevin Lygo, ITV Managing Director, Media and Entertainment, said: ‘When you think of Saturday night television you think of Saturday Night Takeaway.

‘Over 20 series the show has become a cultural phenomenon, and while we eagerly anticipate what Ant & Dec have up their sleeves for the 2024 series, we completely understand their desire to take a pause, take stock, and think about what the next incarnation of the show might look like.’

In a video posted to Twitter on Thursday evening, Ant said: ‘Hi everyone, we’ve got some news for you. Next year, in 2024, it will be our 20th series of Saturday Night Takeaway and we’ve got some very exciting new items.’

ITV insiders have been left stunned at the loss, with some blaming ‘fatigue and a tired format’, the Daily Mail reported at the time.

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