Ant and Dec have opened up about their "gut-wrenching" decision to leave SMTV Live.
The presenting duo reunited with their former co-host Cat Deeley on Saturday morning (December 26) to celebrate 30 years of the daytime TV show in a special programme titled The Story of SMTV Live.
Although it helped to launch their careers, the pair had to step away from the ITV series in 2001 when they were offered the Pop Idol gig, knowing they couldn't present both at the same time.
On the decision to leave SMTV Live, Ant said: "We'd talked about leaving for a little while, and then ITV came to us and said 'look, we've got a new show called Pop Idol'. We knew that the plans were to make this show huge and we knew we couldn't do both."
Dec added: "It was gut-wrenching to leave because we loved the show, it was part of our lives.
"We'd spent three years on it, but also we'd worked on it from the conception of the show up until the very last day with that fantastic show. Even now I'm like oh god, I hate the thought of us having left."
Also during the programme, the Geordie duo revealed that they actually turned down SMTV Live twice before accepting the gig.
Ant explained: "ITV say to you, 'how about doing three hours every Saturday morning? Not just for 28 weeks a year, for 52 weeks a year, for the whole year?' And we went no."
The pair admitted it was "arrogance" and "stupidity" that saw them turn it down, with Dec adding: "We were like, 'we'll do the music show, but we're not doing that. Cartoons and all that? Pfft'."
They were offered the job for a second time and ITV tried to explain why it would provide them with the best live presenting experience, but they turned it down again.
"And then we realised that we were looking a gift horse in the mouth here, and we just thought yeah okay let's do it," said Ant.
The Story of SM:TV Live is available to stream on ITV Hub.
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