Saturday Night Takeaway fans in FLOODS OF TEARS as LAST EVER series begins and hosts Ant and Dec SHARE THROWBACK SNAPS from show’s launch more than 20 years ago

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series of their show Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend.

The television presenting 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.

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.’

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series of their show Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend
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Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly had viewers in tears as they returned for the last ever series of their show Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend

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

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.

They also gave viewers a look at guest commentator Stephen Merchant from the same year that the show launched.

Ant and Dec, both 48, welcomed a deserving studio audience, who had raised £14million for various charities between them, with the audience getting a holiday each

The opening scenes left fans of the show emotional as it dawned on them there were only a few episodes left to air, ever.

Taking to Twitter, one person wrote: ’10 mins int #SaturdayNightTakeaway and I’m crying. So nice giving away all those holidays.’

Someone else shared: ‘Only 30 mins in and i am already crying. i can already tell this will be the biggest and best series yet.

‘So glad the boys are back! What an amazing start to the show, sitting here in tears, just amazing,’ wrote another viewer.

Dec said '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 (pictured)
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Dec said ‘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 (pictured)

They also gave viewers a look at guest commentator Stephen Merchant from the same year that the show launched
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They also gave viewers a look at guest commentator Stephen Merchant from the same year that the show launched

Stephen looked cheerful in his picture from more than two decades ago
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Stephen looked cheerful in his picture from more than two decades ago

Someone else shared: ‘#SaturdayNightTakeaway making me cry at 7.15 on a Saturday evening.’

While someone else wrote: ‘Omg – crying already! Never seen the boys look so serious yet so genuine. Well played!!!

Another viewer posted: ‘Oh how brilliant I’m crying already.’

While someone else shared: ’10 minutes in, and I’m already crying happy tears! Thanks.’

And another viewer wrote: ‘Saturday night takeaway making me cry happy tears already.’

Simon Cowell became a victim of Ant and Dec’s famous undercover prank for a second time on the show.

The music mogul was the duo’s first prank victim in 2003, when they pretended to be a funny audition on US singing competition American Idol, on which Simon was a judge.

To mark the 20th series of the show, the duo returned to the States to prank Cowell on his bike ride and during filming for America’s Got Talent.

The opening scenes left fans of the show emotional as it dawned on them there were only a few episodes left to air, ever

The opening scenes left fans of the show emotional as it dawned on them there were only a few episodes left to air, ever

The first prank saw Cowell interrupted on his morning cycle by a fake police officer who accused him of breaking a series of made-up misdemeanours, including not having his bike painted in the correct colours for the Mailibu, California area.

While the second stage saw the music producer being pranked on America’s Got Talent in front of a live audience when a fake magician act got him to get into a metal box on stage which they locked with chains, with the masked performer pretending to swallow the keys.

However, they pretended to Simon that the key had got stuck in the performer’s throat, which left him unimpressed.

The America’s Got Talent stage crew members then pretended to attempt to cut him free with a chainsaw and just before they were going to use explosives, Ant and Dec took to the stage in disguise as the masked performers before revealing they were behind the prank, causing Cowell to say: ‘I am going to kill you.’

Simon left fans in shock with his ‘frozen’ appearance during the show.

However, viewers found it difficult to focus on what he was saying and were more concered about his appearance.

Simon has previously denied having a face lift but admitted to regretting his extensive use of botox.

Taking to X, several viewers commented on his looks, with one writing: ‘Is that definitely Simon Cowell? He looks like a melting Ken Doll?’

Simon Cowell left fans in shock with his 'frozen' appearance on the latest episode of Saturday Night Takeaway
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Simon Cowell left fans in shock with his ‘frozen’ appearance on the latest episode of Saturday Night Takeaway

The media mogul, 64, made an appearance on the first episode of the new series of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly 's show
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The media mogul, 64, made an appearance on the first episode of the new series of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly ‘s show

However, viewers found it difficult to focus on what he was saying and were more concered about his appearance
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Simon pictured in 2002
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However, viewers found it difficult to focus on what he was saying and were more concered about his appearance

A second user added: ‘Simon Cowell looks more and more like a cartoon every time I see him,’ while a third wrote: ‘Simon Cowell doesn’t look like Simon Cowell anymore.’

A fourth wrote: ‘Not sure Simon Cowell has aged gracefully!’

Fellow guest Stephen Merchant also couldn’t resist commenting on Simon’s appearance during the show.

Simon was pranked by Ant and Dec as they had him pulled over by fake police while on his bike in Malibu.

Commenting on the clip, Stephen, 49, joked: ‘I didn’t like it… I loved it. that was my Simon impression it wasn’t very convincing because my face moved.’

The comedian’s quip also drew a swift response from viewers with one writing: ‘Stephen Merchant just proper mugged off Simon Cowell then.’

Another wrote: ‘Ahaha Stephen Merchant “it’s not quite convincing because my face moved” after his Simon Cowell impression.’

Dec was left in agony as following an unfortunate injury during the show.

Taking to X, several viewers commented on his looks, with one writing: 'Is that definitely Simon Cowell? He looks like a melting Ken Doll?'

Taking to X, several viewers commented on his looks, with one writing: ‘Is that definitely Simon Cowell? He looks like a melting Ken Doll?’

To mark the 20th series of the show, the duo returned to the States to prank Cowell on his bike ride (pictured) and during filming for America's Got Talent
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To mark the 20th series of the show, the duo returned to the States to prank Cowell on his bike ride (pictured) and during filming for America’s Got Talent

The first prank saw Cowell interrupted on his morning cycle by a fake police officer who accused him of breaking a series of made-up misdemeanours
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The first prank saw Cowell interrupted on his morning cycle by a fake police officer who accused him of breaking a series of made-up misdemeanours

While the second stage saw the music producer being pranked on America's Got Talent in front of a live audience when a fake magician act got him to get into a metal box on stage
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While the second stage saw the music producer being pranked on America’s Got Talent in front of a live audience when a fake magician act got him to get into a metal box on stage

They pretended to Simon that the key had got stuck in the performer's throat, which left him unimpressed
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They pretended to Simon that the key had got stuck in the performer’s throat, which left him unimpressed

The series returned to ITV on Saturday evening as the last ever series launched.

Co-hosts Ant and Dec, 48, were both challenged with climbing up two metal towers which were suspended high in the air at London’s Television Centre, where the programme is filmed.

But Dec’s manhood became trapped in his harness as he was lowered down to the ground, leaving him gasping in pain and stumbling around as he attempted to recover.

Television presenter Stephen Mulhern, 46, who sported a bald head while dressed as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers films, was refereeing the game, with the star exclaiming as he watched Dec: ‘Oh he looks in pain!’

A worried Ant asked Dec: ‘Are you ok?’, to while he simply replied: ‘Yeah.’

Ant asked him: ‘Did you get your balls stuck?’

All Dec could do was nod his head in response.

As the presenters hosted the show, there was another, smaller, iconic duo that were seemingly missing – with fans begging producers to bring them back.

Declan Donnelly (right) was left in agony as following an unfortunate injury during Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend
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Declan Donnelly (right) was left in agony as following an unfortunate injury during Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend

Dec's manhood became trapped in his harness as he was lowered down to the ground, leaving him gasping in pain
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Dec’s manhood became trapped in his harness as he was lowered down to the ground, leaving him gasping in pain

Stephen Mulhern, who sported a bald head while dressed as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers films, was refereeing, with the star exclaiming as he watched Dec: 'Oh he looks in pain!' (L-R: Ant McPartlin, Stephen Mulhern and Dec)
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Stephen Mulhern, who sported a bald head while dressed as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers films, was refereeing, with the star exclaiming as he watched Dec: ‘Oh he looks in pain!’ (L-R: Ant McPartlin, Stephen Mulhern and Dec)

Little Ant and Dec have been a staple on the gameshow, with James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw taking on the role from 2006 until 2013, being replaced by Neil Overend and Haydn Reid until 2018.

And this weekend the hosts unveiled their new mini-me’s, welcoming the small duo, aged five and six, to the show.

Bursting through the screen and giving their older counterparts a hug, little Ant didn’t waste a second when it came to insulting big Ant about the size of his forehead.

While viewers praised the ‘chaotic’ pair for being even ‘more fun and cheekier’, others questioned what the original mini-me’s where up to.

One person shared on X: ‘Laughing so hard at the new Little Ant and Dec and their antics on the screen! Little chaos machines!’

Another added: ‘New Little Ant and Dec are pure chaos. Love it.’

‘Loving the new Little Ant and Dec already. They’re even more fun and cheekier,’ a third posted.

Meanwhile, one fan asked: ‘Okay hear me out.. how about we bring the old little Ant and Dec back and just collectively agree as a country to ignore they’re no longer little?’

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly returned to screens for the last ever series of Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend and unveiled their new mini-me's
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Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly returned to screens for the last ever series of Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend and unveiled their new mini-me’s

Little Ant and Dec have been a staple on the gameshow, with James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw starring on the show from 2006 until 2013 (pictured)
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Little Ant and Dec have been a staple on the gameshow, with James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw starring on the show from 2006 until 2013 (pictured)

Another questioned: ‘Can we bring back the original little ant and little dec for the final show of the series?’

‘Be good if they could find way of putting original little ant and dec in show,’ someone penned.

An audition call was put out by ITV bosses late last year looking for ‘confident, cheeky chatty boys with a Geordie accent between the ages of 5-7 who think they could be the next Little Ant and Dec’.

James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw were the first to play Little Ant and Dec way back in 2003.

The cheeky duo interviewed the likes of Katie Price, David and Victoria Beckham, Tony Blair, and Will Smith.

The boys were last on the show in 2006 after aging out of the roles and were not replaced until series 10 in 2013.

They were replaced by Neil Overend, now 17, and Haydn Reid, now 16, and appeared on the show to welcome them.

They have since shied away from the public eye. James was most recently reported as working for the RAC as a patrolman, a job he said he ‘absolutely loved’ in 2021.

Bursting through the screen and giving their older counterparts a hug, little Ant didn't waste a second when it came to insulting big Ant about the size of his forehead
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Bursting through the screen and giving their older counterparts a hug, little Ant didn’t waste a second when it came to insulting big Ant about the size of his forehead

While viewers praised the 'chaotic' pair for being even 'more fun and cheekier', others questioned what the original mini-me's where up to
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View gallery

While viewers praised the ‘chaotic’ pair for being even ‘more fun and cheekier’, others questioned what the original mini-me’s where up to

One person shared on X: 'Laughing so hard at the new Little Ant and Dec and their antics on the screen! Little chaos machines!'

One person shared on X: ‘Laughing so hard at the new Little Ant and Dec and their antics on the screen! Little chaos machines!’

And now, James covers the Sunderland and Durham as a patrolman for the RAC, which he’s worked for since 2015.

He lives in Chester-le-Street in County Durham, with his fiancée Nicole and their two sons, aged one and three.

Ant and Dec have said they are taking a break from Saturday Night Takeaway ‘to spend some time’ with their families.

Ant married Anne-Marie Corbett in 2021 while Dec shares two children, five-year-old daughter Isla and 18-month-old Jack, with his wife Ali Astall.

The award-winning presenting duo announced last year they would be stepping back from the show after the 20 series milestone as they said it seemed like the ‘perfect time to pause for a little while and catch our breath’.

Speaking to Fault magazine, Ant said: ‘Part of the reason we’re pausing Takeaway is we need a break ourselves, and we need to spend some time with our family.

‘We’ve both got children that we need to spend time with for a little bit.’

It has been reported that Ant and Anne-Marie are expecting their first child together.

Meanwhile, another fan asked: 'Okay hear me out.. how about we bring the old little Ant and Dec back and just collectively agree as a country to ignore they¿re no longer little?'

Meanwhile, another fan asked: ‘Okay hear me out.. how about we bring the old little Ant and Dec back and just collectively agree as a country to ignore they’re no longer little?’

Anne-Marie also has two teenage daughters from her previous relationship.

Ant and Dec have been working together for more than 30 years, starting out on teen drama Byker Grove.

They launched Saturday Night Takeaway in 2002, with the show pausing for a period in 2009, before returning four years later in 2013.

It has received multiple Bafta and National Television Awards (NTA), including presenting accolades for the Geordie duo.

The show consists of a selection of comical games, participation from studio audience members or unsuspecting members of the public, with a musical or dance performance to finish.

The pair are set to continue their working relationship with ITV, as hosts of popular shows including I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Britain’s Got Talent and Limitless Win.

Reflecting on their next moves, Ant said: ‘We need time to think and, and time to step back and look at the bigger picture and just see where we are now.

‘Like I say, we’re turning 49, and what do we want to do next? What’s the next phase of our career?

The award-winning presenting duo announced last year they would be stepping back from the show after the 20 series milestone, with And and his wife Anne-Marie Corbett having a baby (pictured at their 2021 wedding)
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The award-winning presenting duo announced last year they would be stepping back from the show after the 20 series milestone, with And and his wife Anne-Marie Corbett having a baby (pictured at their 2021 wedding)

‘And we’ve got lots of ideas and lots of offers on the table, lots of options of things we can do. But it’s working on what we do next and where the next chapter begins.

‘So that’s what we’re gonna do when Saturday Night Takeaway is out of the way. We’ll sit down, take a bit of time, and reevaluate everything.’

Music mogul Simon Cowell is set to be the victim of McPartlin and Donnelly’s famous Undercover prank segment when the show returns on February 24.

The popular feature sees the Geordie duo dress up in disguises in a bid to prank their famous friends.

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