More than four million watch Ant and Dec say 'emotional' goodbye to Saturday Night Takeaway

McPartlin and Donnelly launched Saturday Night Takeaway in 2002. Credit: PA

More than four million viewers tuned in to watch the finale of Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly announced last year that they would be halting the ITV1 entertainment series as it seemed like the “perfect time to pause for a little while and catch our breath”.

The extended finale saw a peak viewership of 5.3 million, according to overnight ratings released by ITV. An average of 4.6 million viewers tuned in, the broadcaster said.

Singer Craig David began the two-hour finale on Saturday by singing and DJ-ing outside the studio to crowds before McPartlin told the audience inside that the ending was “going to be emotional”.

They then introduced guests Girls Aloud ahead of their upcoming reunion tour, scientist Brian Cox, and gave out prizes to the studio and at-home audience.

The finale also saw Holly Willoughby, Rylan Clark, Olly Murs, Davina McCall, Gino D’Acampo and Cheryl get their revenge on the Geordie duo during a pre-recorded restaurant prank which mirrored Ant and Dec’s popular Get Out Of My Ear segment.

The launch episode of this series had an average of 4.9 million viewers, with 5.6 million tuning in at its peak.

Saying farewell to the show, which began in 2002 and was previously paused between 2009 and 2013, McPartlin called it an “honour and a privilege” to host for so long.

Donnelly told the audience that the experience was “beyond our wildest dreams” and they have “truly adored every second of making the show”.

In a joint statement on Instagram, they wrote: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.

“To all the guests, crew, and most importantly you at home who have made the last 20 series so incredible to be part of. We are so grateful to everyone who tuned in and we couldn’t have done it without you.”

McPartlin and Donnelly were also joined by S Club, Tony Hadley and Kaiser Chiefs to perform the Leeds band’s hit track I Predict A Riot, while McFly sang a version of their song All About You to the presenters.

Britain’s Got Talent boss Simon Cowell and This Morning presenters Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond also appeared to farewell the duo, alongside TV presenter Andi Peters and radio host Jordan North.

McPartlin and Donnelly, who met on teen drama Byker Grove, have been working together for more than 30 years, and launched Saturday Night Takeaway in 2002.

The show, which has received multiple Bafta and National Television Awards (NTA), was paused for a period in 2009, before returning four years later in 2013.

They also host other ITV shows including I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Britain’s Got Talent and Limitless Win.

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