Saturday Night Takeaway’s original Little Ant and Dec look unrecognisable over two decades on as the final series returns with new set of mini-mes

The original Little Ant and Dec are all grown up as Saturday Night Takeaway returns for its final series on Saturday with a new set of mini-mes.

An audition call was put out by ITV bosses late last year looking for ‘confident, cheeky chatty boys with a Geordie accent between the ages of 5-7 who think they could be the next Little Ant and Dec’.

James Pallister and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw were the first to play Little Ant and Dec way back in 2003.

The cheeky duo interviewed the likes of Katie Price, David and Victoria BeckhamTony Blair, and Will Smith.

The boys were last on the show in 2006 after aging out of the roles and were not replaced until series 10 in 2013.

The original Little Ant and Dec are all grown up as Saturday Night Takeaway returns on Saturday with a new set of mini-mes

James Pallister (left) and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw were the first to play Little Ant and Dec way back in 2003

James Pallister (left) and Dylan McKenna-Redshaw were the first to play Little Ant and Dec way back in 2003

They were replaced by Neil Overend, now 17, and Haydn Reid, now 16, and appeared on the show to welcome them.

They have since shied away from the public eye. James was most recently reported as working for the RAC as a patrolman, a job he said he ‘absolutely loved’ in 2021

And now, James covers the Sunderland and Durham as a patrolman for the RAC, which he’s worked for since 2015.

He lives in Chester-le-Street in County Durham, with his fiancée Nicole and their two sons, aged one and three.

Speaking of his new career, James previously told The Sun: ‘I absolutely love my job. There’s nothing better than being out on the roads helping people who have broken down.

‘I really pride myself on being able to fix most of the cars I go out to.’

Earlier this year, James and Dylan met with Ant and Dec, who were stunned over how much they have changed.

Speaking about the reunion, Dylan admitted to the publication: ‘They were shocked when they saw us, it’s been a few years since we have caught up and we are much taller!’

James added: ‘Times have changed. I don’t think I look like a Little Ant now but I really enjoyed the experience and its something I’ll never forget.’

The boys were last on the show in 2006 and were replaced in 2013 with Neil Overend, 12, and Haydn Reid, 11, both appearing on the show to welcome them

The boys were last on the show in 2006 and were replaced in 2013 with Neil Overend, 12, and Haydn Reid, 11, both appearing on the show to welcome them

James and Dylan backstage carrying Neil and Haydn, with James and Neil thumbing their noses

James and Dylan backstage carrying Neil and Haydn, with James and Neil thumbing their noses

In 2013, Dylan shared a snap himself enjoying a beer with the real Ant and Dec to his Twitter account, reallittledec
In 2013, Dylan shared a snap himself enjoying a beer with the real Ant and Dec to his Twitter account, reallittledec

Saturday Night Takeaway's original Little Ant James Pallister, 28, is now an RAC patrolman for Sunderland and Durham

Saturday Night Takeaway’s original Little Ant James Pallister, 28, is now an RAC patrolman for Sunderland and Durham

 

As for Little Dec, Dylan set up his own nutrition business which helps people with weight loss, muscle gain, and sports performance.

In 2013, Dylan shared snaps of himself enjoying a beer with the real Ant and Dec as well as goofing around with James and their replacements backstage.

He said: ‘It’s always good to see Ant and Dec again. They were shocked when they saw us, it’s been a few years since we have caught up and we are much taller!

‘It was a really good experience. Me and James used to joke with Ant and Dec. They were great teachers! Looking back I guess we were able to be more naughty and cheeky than they would have got away with.’

In 2018, Neil and Haydn stepped down from the roles as Little Ant and Dec after five years to focus on their studies.

An ITV source told MailOnline at the time the pair, who hail from Durham, had ‘outgrown their roles’ and will now focus on their exams.

As for Saturday Night Takeaway, the show is returning to our screens but will be the last series for an undetermined period of time as Ant and Dec take a ‘breather.’

‘The show takes up such a lot of our year we just feel we need a little bit of a breather and that the show is going to take a little bit of a rest,’ they said in a video update shared with fans last year.

‘We love making Saturday Night Takeaway, but reaching the milestone of 20 series seemed like the perfect time to pause for a little while and catch our breath,’ they added.

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway kicks off its 20th series on ITV1 at 7:00pm on Saturday, February 24.

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