Ant and Dec’s SM:TV Live Was Wasted On Children

25 years ago, Ant & Dec and Cat Deeley launched SM:TV Live, the iconic Saturday morning kids’ TV show with some surprisingly grown-up comedy.

Ant, Dec and Cat Deeley from SMTV Live
Photo: (Photo by Peter Jordan – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

You couldn’t make something like SM:TV Live these days. For starters, Saturday morning kids’ TV is barely a thing any more, cancelled entirely on the soon-to-be-nixed CITV channel, while over on the BBC, it’s relegated to the decidedly more wholesome Saturday Mash-Up Live on CBBC. 

Perhaps this is because – deep down – everyone knows nothing will ever beat Ant & Dec and Cat Deeley’s iconic weekly three hours of Saturday morning mayhem that was SM:TV Live

Dec described SM:TV Live’s goal from the outset when it launched in 1998 was to counteract the “cosier… nice auntie or uncle” vibe of Live & Kicking, the BBC’s Saturday morning show, by being more like their viewers’ “mischievous older brothers and sisters”. 

This required them taking some pretty massive risks, like not being quite so nice to the children watching, and pushing the humour to far more grown-up places. It’s highly unlikely that a modern producer would be comfortable with some of the choices they made, but the nineties were wilder times in the world of television, and thank goodness for that.


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