TV favourites Ant and Dec love fund-raiser

Text Santa presenters Christine Bleakley, Paddy McGuinness, Ant & Dec, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
Text Santa presenters Christine Bleakley, Paddy McGuinness, Ant & Dec, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
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Seasonal favourite Text Santa is back on our screens with some of television’s biggest names

Fresh off the plane from the jungle, Ant and Dec are homeward-bound for Christmas - but not before hosting ITV’s festive fundraising extravaganza, Text Santa. Sophie Herdman interrupts the giggles to find out what’s in store.

Ant and Dec are in hysterics. Nothing unusual about that, of course; whether they’re hosting Britain’s Got Talent or Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, the famous friends always seem to be cracking each other up.

It’s just a simple question that has tickled them - what did they get each other for Christmas last year?

“We bought exactly the same thing,” Ant says, giggling.

“It was a console for your iPad to play games on. We both saw it in New York and it was surreal - we ended up getting the same present.”

This year, the presenters will be spending Christmas back up in Newcastle, their hometown, with their families.

Their relatives live near each other but the duo, who met over twenty years ago on the set of Byker Grove and now not only work together but also live on the same street in London, say they will not be hooking up over the festive period.

“We see enough of each other,” says a smiley Dec, who plans to chill-out, eat turkey, drink wine and watch some classic Christmas films.

“I always watch the Morecambe & Wise Christmas special,” he says. “I often fall asleep during the big film though - that’s the downside of over-eating!”

But before the busy pair head back up north, they have a very important show to do.

Fresh off the plane from Australia, where they’ve been presenting I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, they’re set to front Text Santa, ITV’s annual festive fundraiser.

The 38-year-old pals will be joined by fellow ITV presenters Phillip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Christine Bleakley and Paddy McGuinness for the show, which started in 2011.

It’ll see the stars of Coronation Street perform Fairytale Of Weatherfield with Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, and there’s a special edition of Take Me Out, among other treats.Over the two years, Ant and Dec have taken part in a number of Text Santa dares in a bid to raise money.

The first year, the roles on I’m A Celebrity... were reversed, and the duo was forced to do a Bushtucker Trial to raise £100,000 (the video’s on YouTube and it’s hilarious).

Last year, they made a pledge that went down a storm with viewers - to switch places on stage from their legendary usual positions; Ant on the left, Dec on the right.

“We didn’t realise that would work so well,” Ant admits, chuckling.

They’re not the only ones getting involved in larks for charity - last year Schofield and Willoughby swapped outfits.

While Willoughby managed to pull off the suit, Schofield looked hilarious in her tight red dress. Ant confesses that the stunt was his favourite part of last year’s show.

“Yes, he [Schofield] was a bit too keen to wear that dress,” says Dec.

So have they got something even better hidden up their sleeves for this year?

“We’re up for anything,” Dec insists. “This year, there’s a whisper that we may do an Ant v Dec challenge live on the show - we have no idea what we will have to do,” he adds.

“I bet it will be scary,” says Ant, laughing.

They might be chuckling now, but if they were pitted against each other, would they secretly be a little bit competitive? Not very secretly,” says Dec. We are very open about it,” Ant agrees. I always want to win,” notes Dec.

One thing they will not be competing over is who has designed the best hat.

Both presenters helped design Text Santa Christmas Hats (on sale at Morrisons) and they seem pretty happy with the results.

“Mine has got my name on - Antlers,” says Ant, grinning.

“Mine has a little bit of mistletoe on,” adds Dec, cheekily. “I thought it was genius - people go around at Christmas with mistletoe, so I thought if you just wear the Santa hat instead of holding the mistletoe, that saves a lot of labour and shoulder ache.”

Text Santa is not all laughs, though. The show appeals to the public to donate their money via text and calls, to help UK charities.

The causes change each year, and 2013’s appeal is supporting Barnardo’s, BeatBullying, Age UK, British Heart Foundation, CLIC Sargent and Help The Hospices.

The programme also features real-life tales that highlight the charities’ work.

“When you hear some of the stories, they really do make your heart ache,” says Dec.