Monday 19 April 2021

Once Upon a Tyne - Anthony McPartlin & Declan Donnelly with Andy Milligan

Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV.

Ant: As the old Chinese proverb says, 'Good things come in pairs'.
Dec: And as another Chinese proverb says, 'If you've been in a double act with your best mate for thirty years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?'
Ant: Less catchy that one, isn't it?
Dec: But no less true. And after three decades together, we're writing that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story.
Ant: Thirty years, eh? Amazing.
Dec: Absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old.

From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their "unique" time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, the last three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They've also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers, and celebrities they torture - sorry, work with - every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they've made, as well as everything they've learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.

What did I think?

Being of an age where I rushed home from my school in Newcastle to watch Byker Grove, I feel like I've grown up with Ant and Dec on my telly.  It's amazing to think that these two lads from Tyneside have been on our screens for 30 years and we're not even sick of them yet!  They continue to entertain millions and scoop armfuls of awards because, like Morecambe & Wise, they are the perfect pairing.  There's only one Ant & Dec and this is their story (so far). 

Written in their own imitable style the lads' voices come through loud and clear; I'm sure it would be even better on audiobook but I read the hardback with full colour photos included.  You don't get photos on audiobook, so there!  I do think that it's well worth getting the hardback to see the brilliant, and often hilarious, colour photos in all their glory.  I love the book format that takes the reader on a chronological journey of TV shows from Byker Grove to DNA story, with a chapter being dedicated to each venture.  

I haven't watched everything that Ant & Dec have ever done but I'm familiar with the shows so it was really interesting to read some of the funny stories I hadn't heard before and recall those I had forgotten.  From kettle stealing Alan Shearer to Madonna's wardrobe malfunction at The Brits they're all in Once Upon a Tyne.  What you won't find are the gory details of Ant's fall from grace as this is a celebration of the working relationship of Britain's favourite pair of entertainers.

Funny, honest and entertaining, Once upon a Tyne is so easy and fun to read but it should definitely come with a warning: may cause laughter.  You can't help but read it with a smile on your face as Ant & Dec are the best anti-depressant you can get without prescription.

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