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Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly reveal they had showdown with Simon Cowell over quitting BGT

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have admitted they considered quitting Britain’s Got Talent after feeling like they were ‘side-lined’ on the series.

The presenting duo, who have fronted the show since its inception in 2007, admitted in their new book Once Upon A Tyne, they had crisis talks with Simon Cowell in Los Angeles in 2012 where they told him they were considering walking away.

In passages from the book obtained by The Sun, Ant and Dec, both 44, told how they informed ITV bosses they were considering quitting after the 2011 series when they discovered they were barely featured on the show, despite all their hard work.  

Calling it quits: Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, both 44, have admitted they considered quitting Britain’s Got Talent after feeling like they were ‘side-lined’ on the series

They wrote: ‘After filming interviews and interacting with every single act, as well as making jokes, giving reactions and everything else we always do, we found that when the show went out on TV, we hardly seemed to feature in it at all. The experience left us feeling like we were being side-lined’. 

Ant and Dec told bosses that they felt anyone could be hosting the show, considering all of their work that was cut out, and they were thinking about leaving when their contract was up. 

Dec even went as far as to say that he remembered waking up in Birmingham on the final day of the 2012 tour and thinking that it would be the last time he’d ever do it. 

The pair added the conversations with the bosses were not easy but they felt they were necessary and it led to Simon requesting to see them both in LA as he frantically tried to get them to stay.

Crisis: The duo admitted in their book Once Upon A Tyne, they had crisis talks with Simon Cowell in Los Angeles in 2012 where they told him they were considering walking away

Crisis: The duo admitted in their book Once Upon A Tyne, they had crisis talks with Simon Cowell in Los Angeles in 2012 where they told him they were considering walking away

Unhappy: Ant and Dec informed ITV bosses they were considering quitting after the 2011 series when they discovered they were barely featured on the show

Unhappy: Ant and Dec informed ITV bosses they were considering quitting after the 2011 series when they discovered they were barely featured on the show 

The trio met at a restaurant in West Hollywood and sat outside so Simon could smoke with Ant and Dec noting he was only a minute late for the meeting, which they say is out of character for him as he is often hours late. 

Simon began the conversation by telling the pair how well he thought the previous series of Britain’s Got Talent had gone and how pleased he was with the talent, before asking them how they felt about it. 

Ant and Dec wrote: ‘We let him have it with both barrels. We told him everything – that we weren’t being used, that we could be doing other stuff, that maybe someone else should take over.

‘He made a promise to us that things would change and that we’d never feel like that again. He desperately wanted us to stay and we told him we’d do the next series and see how it went – and, to be fair to him, he was as good as his word and things did change.’  

Excited: Ant and Dec pictured showing off their new book to Instagram

Excited: Ant and Dec pictured showing off their new book to Instagram 

At the end of the evening, Simon offered the duo a lift back to their hotel in his Rolls-Royce which they accepted as they had never been in one before.

Simon also contributed to the book and wrote that if Ant or Dec are ever annoyed, they will say it to his face and there is no drama with them, which he respects.

MailOnline has contacted representatives for ITV and Britain’s Got Talent for comment.  

Britain’s Got Talent returns to screens on Sunday with a pre-recorded show where the semi-finalists will be revealed.

They wrote: 'We found that when the show went out on TV, we hardly seemed to feature in it at all. The experience left us feeling like we were being side-lined'

They wrote: ‘We found that when the show went out on TV, we hardly seemed to feature in it at all. The experience left us feeling like we were being side-lined’

Ashley Banjo will fill in for Simon on the judging panel, joining Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams, while he recovers from breaking his back.

The Diversity star, 31, – who won the ITV show in 2009 with his dance troupe – will take up the new role for the first semi-final.

Entertainment mogul Simon broke his back earlier this month after falling from his new Swind EB-01 bike at his Malibu home.

Although it had been hoped that Simon might be able to appear via video call for the already delayed shows, it has now been confirmed that he will not be seen at all.

A source told The Mirror: ‘It was decided that the idea of having him judge the BGT finalists via a link was just not feasible – nor sensible.

‘Everything is fixed, he just needs healing time. Flying halfway across the world is not part of the plan and he has agreed to put his health first.’

Bowing out: Ant and Dec told bosses that considering all of their work that was cut out they were thinking about leaving the show when their contract was up

Bowing out: Ant and Dec told bosses that considering all of their work that was cut out they were thinking about leaving the show when their contract was up

The shows have already been hit by delays due to coronavirus restrictions. Although the audition episodes were shown in April the live finals had to be postponed.

Filming has also been changed to ensure that crew and acts can remain socially distanced and there is going to be a virtual audience.

Now instead of live shows, the episodes will be pre-recorded and shown in what would have been The X Factor’s prime-time Saturday night slot.

Simon broke his back after falling from his new bike and underwent six hours of surgery to insert a metal rod into his spine after the freak accident.

Meeting: The pair added the conversations with the bosses were not easy but they felt they were necessary and it led to Simon requesting to see them both in LA

Meeting: The pair added the conversations with the bosses were not easy but they felt they were necessary and it led to Simon requesting to see them both in LA

Speaking exclusively with MailOnline after the accident, sources close to the family said: ‘He’s in good spirits and knows he had a lucky escape and that this could have been worse.’

And within two days Simon was already said to be back on his feet walking around and even taking work calls despite reportedly facing ‘weeks’ of physiotherapy.

The family sources added: ‘He’s doing really well considering everything. He’s been walking around already, obviously he has to be careful, which is expected considering surgery was only one day ago.

‘Simon has even been working yesterday and also today he’s been on emails on his iPad since early morning. He’s in good spirits and knows he had a lucky escape and that this could have been worse.’

Once Upon A Tyne: Celebrating 30 years together on telly is released on Thursday September 3.

Ant and Dec wrote: 'He made a promise to us that things would change and that we'd never feel like that again. He desperately wanted us to stay'

Ant and Dec wrote: ‘He made a promise to us that things would change and that we’d never feel like that again. He desperately wanted us to stay’

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