Read Ooh! What a Lovely Pair Our Story Online

Authors: Ant McPartlin,Declan Donnelly

Ooh! What a Lovely Pair Our Story

BOOK: Ooh! What a Lovely Pair Our Story
13.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Ooh! What a Lovely Pair



Our Story





an imprint of


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
, England

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
MP4 2Y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
, England

First published 2009

Copyright © Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, 2009
For further copyright permissions see
page 358

The moral right of the authors has been asserted

All rights reserved

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book

ISBN: 978-0-14-193180-7



Picture the scene. It’s a cold and wet November in 1993 and two young men are stood in the cramped and smoky manager’s office of Tokyo Joe’s, a nightclub in Preston. It’s six o’clock in the evening, and they each take a pair of extremely baggy jeans and an ill-fitting Day-glo shirt out of their Head sports bag.

They make their way towards the dancefloor, where a grumpy and overweight DJ is introducing them as the star attraction at the Tuesday-afternoon under-18s disco. Hidden behind the DJ booth, the young men take a quick peek at their audience. It’s predominantly made up of thirteen-year-old schoolgirls, some of whom have dragged their boyfriends along. The intrepid performers step out on to a sticky dancefloor and spend the next three and a half minutes miming to their one and only single, while dancing as best they can in shirts and jeans made for men twice their size. For the entire performance, the assembled schoolgirls let out ear-splitting screams, while their boyfriends offer a slightly different response: they hurl ice cubes and ashtrays – and, when they’ve run out of them, start spitting at the two young men.


Exhausted from the effort of dodging such missiles while lip-synching, the two retreat to the manager’s office to get changed. One of them turns to the other, and says,

Why the hell do we do these things?


‘Look on the bright side,’ the other one replies. ‘It’s one for the book.’

Well, those two young men were us – Ant and Dec.

And this is that book.

Before we go any further, we should explain one thing: when you see words in italics, that’s me, Ant.


And when you see them in bold, that’s me, Dec.

So that’s Ant – italics.


And Dec – bold.

Got it? Good.

This year, 2009, is the twentieth year the two of us have spent working together and, for the last two decades, whenever something embarrassing happens, whenever something we’re proud of happens, whenever something pinch-yourself-unbelievable happens, we turn to each other and say, ‘One for the book.’


Whether it was attempting to do the Junior Great North Run in Newcastle dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, swinging punches at each other in a Torremolinos hotel lift, trying to talk our way out of singing a cappella in Indonesia, chastising John Lydon in the middle of an Australian rainforest, or pretending not to be drunk in front of Victoria Beckham and Eva Longoria, sometimes it seems like we’ve been saying ‘One for the book’ on a daily basis. In fact, we realized we’d said it so much, it was about time we actually wrote that book – so here it is.

Chapter 1


I lay on the sofa, and I just kept thinking the same thing:

‘It could have been me.

It should have been me.

I should have been the
Geordie Racer.

What am I talking about? Well, picture, if you will, a little fella called Declan Donnelly. You’re thinking about how I look
, aren’t you? But I mean a smaller Declan Donnelly. Nope, smaller than that. That’s better. Think of a child who was desperate to be an actor. Well, in 1987, that was me, and that was when I went for my very first audition – for a children’s drama called
Geordie Racer.
It was part of the BBC schools programme
Look and Read
, which, as those of you who grew up in the eighties will recall, featured a strange floating figure called Wordy. If you didn’t grow up in the eighties, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about – look it up on the internet. Not now though, you’ve only just started the book – honestly, what’s the matter with you?

The hero of
Geordie Racer
was Spuggy Hilton. Apparently, ‘Spuggy’ is short for ‘sparrow’, and young Spuggy kept pigeons. I know, sparrows, pigeons, it’s not exactly
The Bourne Ultimatum
, but what can I say? It was the eighties – a time when stories were basic, tastes were simple and pigeons were at the heart of an entire drama.

At the audition, I got down to the last two, which meant the
Geordie Racer
would be me, or… someone else. Then I got the phone call every actor dreads – the phone call telling me the other lad had got the part. I can’t remember his name now, I never met him, but if he’s reading this, well done for being a better pigeon-fancier than me.

Not getting
Geordie Racer
broke my little heart, I don’t mind telling you. I cried for days – yes, days. You know what actors are like – and if you don’t, let me tell you: neurotic, insecure and self-obsessed. In short, I was born for it.

Although, looking back, I think it was destiny I didn’t get the part of the kid who kept pigeons.

Yeah, because every actor should experience rejection.


No, because I’m terrified of birds – I don’t know what I was thinking; to this day I still can’t go near the ostriches during the Bushtucker Trials on
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me out of Here!
God knows how I would have managed to spend days on end surrounded by pigeons as a mere child.

After that crushing rejection, I made a momentous decision: that was it – I was going to retire from acting. I was eleven.

Then, something happened, something that changed my mind and enticed me back into the world of showbusiness. I got a letter. As you can imagine, it was exciting enough just to get a letter at that age – no one really writes to kids, after all. And this was no ordinary letter; it was from Sue Weeks, the producer of
Geordie Racer.
She wrote that, even though I hadn’t got the part, she thought I had something, that I could make it as an actor and that I should stick at it. She said I should try again if another part came up. That letter made a huge difference, someone had shown faith in me, and I made my second momentous decision: I was coming out of retirement. I was still eleven.

He may have been sensitive enough to have his heart broken by rejection, but Dec’s story fails to mention one thing – he’s a complete and utter show-off, and always has been, which is why he was desperate to have the part. When it came to performing, I, on the other hand, wasn’t always so keen, and that’s because I like to think I’m a much more balanced individual. I’m probably not, but I like to think I am. Don’t get me wrong, I still performed as a child and, by the age of eleven, I had a complete set of impressions and jokes that went down a storm with the whole audience… of my mates… in the playground. Despite that, when it came to
showing off in front of people I’d never met, things weren’t so easy. I was a bit like an old car – I needed a bit of a push to get going.

That push came from my drama teacher, Lynne Spencer. Obviously she was Mrs Spencer at the time, but you can use teachers’ first names once you’ve left school, can’t you?

I used to love drama lessons, and Lynne constantly encouraged me, praised me, and then put me up for an audition without telling me. It was my first ever audition, and I beat one other kid to get the part.


I knew it –
were the
Geordie Racer…

No, I wasn’t the
Geordie Racer.

My audition was for the BBC kids’ show
Why Don’t You?,
although I don’t think Lynne actually said, ‘Why Don’t You… audition for…
Why Don’t You?’
That would’ve been silly and confusing. The producers went round schools all over Newcastle looking for kids to cast over the summer holidays, and so, when they arrived at my school, Rutherford Comprehensive, I decided to go for it. Or, to be more precise, Lynne decided I should go for it. As I stepped on to the stage in the assembly hall, I felt nervous, but at the same time I thought it was just a bit of a laugh, it wasn’t going to lead to anything. Plus, there were other people on the stage, so it wasn’t like everyone was looking at just me.

For the audition, we had to improvise a scene for the producers, and the theme they gave us was transport.

Reading this, you’re probably thinking, ‘Transport, eh? I wonder what the young Ant McPartlin did with that – was he the captain of a ship, perhaps? A racing driver maybe? Or even an airline pilot?

Guess again.

I was a drunk.

What’s a drunk got to do with transport? You might well ask, but that was the genius of my performance: I was a drunk on a bus.

Much to my surprise, I got the part. I’m not sure if the producers were drunk as well, but they gave me the job on
Why Don’t You?,
and suddenly my career was on its way.

Along with the other kids in
Why Don’t You?,
I spent the summer filming on a double-decker bus, although I never once got to pretend to be
drunk on
bus, which seemed a shame after my audition. But it was brilliant: I learnt lines, I performed to camera, and I felt like I’d well and truly arrived, which – being on a bus that constantly moved around – I often had.

I was convinced I’d found my calling; I would perform for the rest of my life. Then, one earth-shattering event changed all of that. I went back to school.

Why Don’t You?,
I’d often been the butt of the jokes, and had been portrayed as a bit of an idiot, and that didn’t help when I was back in class. The other kids were jealous, and they teased me. A lot. They’d call me a knob, or an idiot, or say they’d ‘seen me acting like a tit on the telly’. To be honest, it put me off the idea of performing. It’s that thing that’s happened to us all at one time or another in our schooldays: you get teased for something – it could be a stupid question you ask a teacher or a pair of trousers you’re wearing – and you grow to hate that thing, it makes you want to make sure you never do it again. Well, that was how I felt about performing. So I stopped going for auditions.


Meanwhile, I was doing slightly more low-key gigs although, by this point, it has to be said, I was a hugely experienced performer. I had a CV that included dancing on stage at the Tyneside Irish Centre, singing on stage at the Tyneside Irish Centre and even telling jokes on stage at the Tyneside Irish Centre. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but my parents ran the Tyneside Irish Centre.

BOOK: Ooh! What a Lovely Pair Our Story
13.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

High Fall by Susan Dunlap
Here by Denise Grover Swank
The Awakening by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Caged Love: MMA Contemporary Suspense (Book One) by Thunderbolt, Liberty, Robinson, Zac
Celtic Storms by Delaney Rhodes
Where I Was From by Joan Didion
Marked by Passion by Kate Perry