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Jeremy Clarkson has been on our hit list for 10 years, say Ant and Dec

Ant and Dec ‘nervous’ about pranking Jeremy Clarkson (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Ant and Dec ‘nervous’ about pranking Jeremy Clarkson (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly were “nervous” to play a prank on Jeremy Clarkson for their variety show Saturday Night Takeaway.

In a teaser clip, the Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm star is seen arriving at his Diddly Squat farm shop in Oxfordshire where prank campaigners were protesting that soil had feelings.

Speaking on This Morning, Donnelly revealed that Clarkson had been on their “hit list” for about 10 years since his days on Top Gear.

He said: “We always thought, ‘we’ll never get him, we’ll never get him’, and we got an in.

“His lovely girlfriend Lisa, she said: ‘Come down to the farm and we’ll set him up.’

“He’s got a temper as we all know, so we were very nervous about it.

“We’ve got a hit list of people and we are constantly looking at ways, who can we go through.”

The ITV morning show co-host Dermot O’Leary asked if the pair were paranoid about celebrities getting their own back.

Ant and Dec
Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly with the Best Entertainment Programme Award at the Bafta’s in 2015 (Ian West/PA)

McPartlin, 46, said: “Every time there is strange service, angry car park attendant, just a weird stranger there, I think: ‘This is an undercover.’

“You start looking at smoke alarms and CCTV cameras going: ‘Oh my god, they have got us, they have finally got us.’”

McPartlin and Donnelly also revealed they played a prank on members of the public at the O2, taking over the security checkpoint in a sketch for the variety show.

Donnelly said: “Everybody was coming into the O2 to go to a restaurant or to a bar but they had to go through security, and it was us.

“You know when you are at an airport and you have got to take your shoes off? Imagine if then you had to take your socks off and your trousers off, we just annoyed them.

“We had one guy who would repeatedly storm off because he was so angry, and then he would come back saying: ‘I have to get in to the O2,’ he just kept coming back and then storming off again, it’s so good.”

The award-winning programme will have a host of new additions, including a mini-series called Polter Guys, in which McPartlin and Donnelly become ghostbusters.

American drag queen RuPaul will be the show’s first star guest announcer who has “taken it upon himself to sort out the end of the show show,” Donnelly said.

Winners of Drag Race UK, The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney and Krystal Versace, will appear in the final performance, he revealed.

The variety show will be filmed in front of a live studio audience again after last year’s show had a virtual gallery due to Covid protocols.

Donnelly admitted he got “choked up” looking at the audience seats, adding “it’s honestly like a big party in the studio”.

McPartlin said: “You know what it’s like, it makes all the world of difference.

“The show is all centred around the audience and the fun that we have and surprises we have for them, so we are very excited to get them back.”

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway returns on February 19 at 7pm on ITV.

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