SMTV Live reunion: why revisiting the Ant & Dec morning series means so much right now

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An SM:TV Live reunion has just been confirmed by Ant McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and Cat Deeley. One writer reflects on why this is such a magical moment for so many millennials in search of simpler times during the pandemic. 

“It’s Bryan! It’s Bryyyyaaan…”

Anyone whose mind just flashed back to Declan Donnelly dressed as Misty from Pokemon while screaming the name of one fifth of Westlife is no doubt a millennial who grew up watching SM:TV Live every Saturday morning.

You’ll also be one of the very many fans who are celebrating the news that an SM:TV reunion has just been announced, with Donnelly and fellow former presenters Cat Deeley and Ant McPartlin confirming it’s already been filmed.

“There’s definitely an SM:TV reunion. We’ve filmed a show looking back at the story of SM:TV and how it came about. That’s going to be on later in the year,” Donnelly said on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show earlier this week.

Speaking about a possible new recording of the show, Deeley said in another Radio 2 interview: “Of course I would be up for it, but whether it would be as good as we remember, I don’t know…”

Even if a new episode doesn’t go ahead, the reunion is enough to satisfy me, along with the friends, family members and colleagues who also tuned into the show as a youngster. Just thinking about my favourite moments and watching old clips on YouTube puts a smile on my face and makes me properly laugh out loud.

SM:TV evokes memories of me jumping out of bed on a Saturday morning, haphazardly splashing milk into a bowl of cereal, grabbing a sugary tea from my mum’s hands and plonking myself on the sofa alongside my two older brothers to watch a morning of cartoons, sketches, cheesy pop performances and mishaps. 

SMTV Live reunion
Cat Deeley, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have confirmed the SM:TV Live reunion.

I was obsessed with Pokemon, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Hey Arnold!, and My Parents Are Aliens. I wasn’t so convinced by Digimon (a poor take on Pokemon, surely?) but watched every episode nonetheless because my brothers did and I wanted to be in on it with them. 

And that was the whole point: SM:TV was about sitting back and laughing my head off with my siblings. 

I maintain that Donnelly getting increasingly frustrated with young callers who failed at the rhyming game Wonkey Donkey is one of the funniest things on television. “It’s gotta rhyme!” he regularly screamed. “Nooo! How many times have I got to say NO for ‘glee bee’?!” he yelled at the end of an iconic episode

Then there was Chums: the parody take on Friends, which saw the three presenters living together in an apartment, frequently visited by some of the biggest names in pop (think 5ive, Atomic Kitten, Steps, Martine McCutcheon and Hear’Say – all the classics). 

It still makes my sides split with laughter. Victoria Beckham even made an appearance for goodness sake, back in her solo singing career days. And who can forget The One with Ant Aid, which saw a chorus of 00s popstars singing, “Bliiink for Aaant”. 

Ant & Dec play Wonkey Donkey

Postbag, PokefightChallenge Ant and Eat My Goal helped complete the vital weekend series. The more mistakes that happened, the better – we all wanted to be pals with the trio, who seemed to be living the best grown-up lives ever. But in 2001, after three years on the show, Donnelly and McPartlin left their presenting posts, which were filled by various guest hosts. SM:TV Live was never quite the same again, and it stopped airing in 2003. 

By this point, I was a teenager trying to act more mature than my years, but I was genuinely really gutted when there was an SM:TV hole in my weekends. From what I can see, nothing good enough has ever replaced it.

Although I have few things in common with my siblings, the one thing that runs through all of us in my family is a very specific sense of humour. I can’t even put my finger on what that exactly is, but we’ve always found the same things funny. 

I’ve only seen my brothers once this year, when I could finally visit home in Yorkshire for a week back in June. Although I’ll probably next see them at Christmas, it’s becoming clearer that things won’t be the same in 2020. 

That’s why I’m looking forward to picking up the phone later this weekend and mentioning everything I’ve talked about here. Because at a time when all we want is to be transported back to a simpler time when life felt carefree and fun, a little trip down nostalgia lane can do the world of good. Laughter is the best remedy, after all. 

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Images: ITV

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…