Ant and Dec say they almost quit Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, partly because they were unhappy with the way the show was being edited.
The presenting duo felt they were being “sidelined”, as segments they filmed for the audition shows kept “ending up on the cutting room floor”.
“It felt like it may as well have been anyone hosting the show,” wrote Dec in the pair’s upcoming autobiography.
The situation was only resolved after a tense meeting with Simon Cowell.
“We let him have it with both barrels,” said Ant in the book, titled Once Upon A Tyne, which has been previewed in The Sun.
“We told him everything – that we weren’t being used, that we could be doing other stuff, that maybe someone else should take over.”
The duo also told Cowell they had grown frustrated with his timekeeping, adding that his habit of turning up late to auditions “drives us nuts”.
“To be fair to Simon, he sat there, took it all and listened intently for four, maybe five cigarettes,” Ant recalled.
Dec added: “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.”
Ant and Dec have continued to host Britain’s Got Talent ever since, and the TV talent show is now in its 14th series.
It is due to return to ITV on 5 September, after this year’s live finals were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The broadcaster had initially hoped to film the finals in front of a full audience, but social distancing requirements mean that will no longer be possible, even with the delay.
“Obviously you prefer a big audience but it’s a very familiar show and there are ways of making it feel like there is an audience without cranking up the applause track,” said ITV boss Kevin Lygo at the virtual Edinburgh TV festival on Thursday.
“It puts more pressure on the judges to make sure it’s obvious we are all having fun.”