The pair have hosted every series of BGT since its debut in 2007, but in an excerpt from their new book Once Upon A Tyne (published by The Sun), they revealed that in 2012, they came close to stepping down from the show altogether.
As well as Simon Cowell’s constant lateness on set every day “driving them nuts”, the duo also had a problem with the number of scenes they were being asked to record which would ultimately end up on the cutting room floor.
“It was on a trip to America, in 2012, where we had to have a serious conversation with Simon,” Ant wrote. “The previous series of BGT had been especially tricky for us two.
“The audition days had been very long, which in itself we don’t mind, but 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.”
He continued: “We began to feel that we were wasting our time doing the auditions because all the footage of the work we were doing was ending up on the cutting room floor.”
Feeling like they were being “sidelined”, Dec said: “We’d been to see the bosses at ITV and told them we were strongly considering leaving BGT.
“At that stage, it felt like it may as well have been anyone hosting the show and we said that when our current contract expired, we thought it was time to move on.
“This isn’t something we’re in the habit of doing and they aren’t easy conversations to have, but we felt like honesty was the best policy.”
The duo eventually sat down with the TV mogul at an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, where he convinced them that they should stay with BGT for at least one more series.
“We let him have it with both barrels,” Ant explained. “We told him everything — that we weren’t being used, that we could be doing other stuff, that maybe someone else should take over.
“To be fair to Simon, he sat there, took it all and listened intently for four, maybe five cigarettes.”
Dec noted: “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, things did change.”
The current series of Britain’s Got Talent is on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the auditions airing earlier in the year.
It was recently revealed that the semi-finals will resume in September, with a weekly pre-recorded show replacing the usual live episodes, which usually air over the space of a week.
There will also be no studio audience, while Simon will be replaced on the panel by former BGT winner Ashley Banjo, after the music mogul seriously injured his back earlier this month.
Ant and Dec’s autobiography Once Upon A Tyne is released on 3 September.