Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are as much as part of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here as the witchetty grubs.

Since the show's launch in 2002 they've stood side-by-side in jungle HQ, bantering and gentle ripping it out of the celebs year after year.

Back then, though, life looked very different for the TV mega-stars who were still hosting children's morning show, SMTV: Live, and had just got their prime time break hosting Pop Idol.

But when I'm A Celeb was pitched to them, they were far from keen.

"We listened intently to the idea, and shot each other a few sideways glances as they explained how eight celebrities would live together in a tiny camp in the middle of a rainforest for two weeks," Dec wrote in their 2009 autobiography, Ooh! What A Lovely Pair! Our Story.

A baby-faced Ant and Dec in publicity shots for the very first I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here
A baby-faced Ant and Dec in publicity shots for the very first I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here
 

For Ant, the biggest source of concern was the show's name.

"Even as they were explaining the show, I couldn't stop thinking about the title and how long and strange it sounded," Ant wrote. 

"I just kept thinking, 'It sounds stupid - and that title's far too long.'"

After finally signing on the dotted line, they flew out to Mission Beach, Queensland, with their manager Ali Astall - who would become Dec's wife 12 years later.

At that point though, he was in a serious nine-year relationship with 2.4 Children actress Clare Buckfield.

Ant, then 27, was also taken, having fallen in love with Deuce star Lisa Armstrong on the Newcastle leg of the Smash Hits tour in 1994.

Dec dated Clare Buckfield from 1993 to 2003
Dec dated Clare Buckfield from 1993 to 2003
 

Meanwhile, the trip was a disaster from the outset, with Ant and Dec booked into an eco-lodge that was festooned with erotic statues.

"The whole place was like a hippy, sexy haven and two things we aren't is hippes or sexy," recalled Ant, who was so desperate to leave that he almost ran off without Dec.

"I'd nipped to the loo and when I got back, the place was deserted - apart from [owners] Gary and Barry, who were enjoying a pot of herbal tea while polishing their sex statues," Dec quipped.

And the show didn't get off to a flying start either, with low ratings leaving the duo feeling frustrated as they battled to 'define our role'.

Ant and Dec feared I'm A Celebrity would flop
Ant and Dec feared I'm A Celebrity would flop
 

"That first week was really a struggle," Ant said.

"Aside from giving out phone numbers and going into camp to announce the results, it felt like we were just there to say, 'This is what's just happened, here's what happened next.'

"We didn't know whether to play it for laughs or be straight. It seems a funny thing to say now because the show is ridiculous (but in a brilliant way, obviously."

For Dec, given everyone's uncertainty about what was supposed to be happening, he thought it was a 'miracle' they even managed to get it on air.

Half way through Lisa and Clare arrived. And while Ant and Dec couldn't party because they had to be up at 1am everyday, it was a different case for the girls.

Ant and Dec pictured with girlfriends Lisa and Clare
Ant and Dec pictured with girlfriends Lisa and Clare
 

"We'd leave them down at the bar every evening when we went to sleep. One night, we got up for work and Clare and Lisa were still in the bar - we went round to tell them off, shocked that people could spend all night drinking like that," Dec said.

"The moment we set eyes on them, we could tell it'd been a pretty heavy session. They were trying to hide from us by pretending to be lamps. It didn't work."

Once the two weeks were up, the shattered pair didn't expect there would be a second series - until they realised it had actually been a hit.

By the time their 2013 trip rolled around, it was all change for Dec who had split from childhood sweetheart Clare following an alleged hookup with lapdancer Tina Benson.

He and Ali are then rumoured to have briefly taken things to the next level.

Ali - who lived just 200 metres down the road from Ant and Dec's Chiswick homes - was even spotted joining Ant and Lisa on holiday.

However, at that time it seems their budding romance wasn't to be.

“On the holiday, their attraction really heated up and they had a great time together," a source previously told the Sunday People.

“Dec and Ali gave it a go but it didn’t really work out. They remained close friends and Ali continued to be his manager."

Dec dated Georgie Thompson for two years
Dec dated Georgie Thompson for two years
 

Dec was soon linked to a slew of TV babes including Sarah Cawood, actress Kate Braithwaite and Sky Sports presenter Diana Stewart before getting into a two-year relationship with presenter Georgie Thompson in 2009.

But while Dec was playing the field, things were getting serious for Ant, who proposed to Lisa on a romantic holiday to Dubai in 2005.

They tied the knot the following year in a star-studded ceremony at Cliveden country house hotel in Buckinghamshire with Dec as best man.

Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong tied the knot back in 2006
Ant McPartlin and Lisa Armstrong tied the knot back in 2006
 

They hoped children would follow, but in 2013 they adopted their chocolate Labrador Hurley and Ant admitted they were struggling to conceive.

"Lisa and I would love to have kids. We’re trying. It’s tougher than you think when you get a bit older," he told the Radio Times.

"There’s a rumour that we do everything together and I’m holding off having kids till Dec finds himself Mrs Right. I love that idea, but I’m afraid it’s not true."

As luck would have it, Dec's Mrs Right wasn't far away. Less than 12 months later he and Ali reunited - this time for good.

Ant McPartlin was made an OBE by Prince Charles in 2017
Ant McPartlin was made an OBE by Prince Charles in 2017

“She has been in love with Dec for a very long time, she’s stayed single and has held out for him," an insider said.

“Ali is a gorgeous girl and a lot of her friends couldn’t understand why she didn’t have a boyfriend.

“Now they know it’s because Ali wanted to be with Dec. He is the only guy for her.”

They married in 2015 and in 2016 Ant and Dec were awarded an OBE for services to broadcasting and entertainment.

Dec and Ali on their wedding day in 2015
Dec and Ali on their wedding day in 2015

Outwardly, their lives seemed perfect. But silently, trouble was brewing.

Ant had been suffering knee pain since performing River Dance on the Saturday Night Takeaway tour in 2014.

He underwent surgery and had steroid injections, but the pain persisted and he was prescribed the powerful painkiller tramadol.

It later emerged doctors had missed a hairline fracture that subsequently turned into a 2cm hole in the bone.

Ant wore a brace constantly, removing it only to host Britain's Got Talent and was also fighting a secret battle with clinical depression which he hid from Dec and Lisa.

Ant put a brave face on for Saturday Night Takeaway
Ant put a brave face on for Saturday Night Takeaway

“That was hard. You can still go through work and have fun yet underneath it all you’re suffering. I was still having great times on all the shows but the pain was there constantly," he told The Sun.

"Coming home when you’ve finished the show and the adrenaline has died down, then you’re just left alone with it again, getting depressed about it.

“That’s when I’d reach more painkillers which would continue the cycle.”

In June 2017 he went public and entered rehab for two months in a bid to tackle his demons.

And after that, it appeared to be business as usual with Ant joining Dec for I'm A Celebrity that November.

However, his marriage was in trouble with Ant reportedly refusing to return to their marital home and instead renting a bachelor pad nearby. The following January he released a solo statement confirming that he'd left Lisa.

Ant left Lisa in January 2018
Ant left Lisa in January 2018

And that March the truth of Ant's private struggles came to the fore when he was convicted of drink driving after a three car smash.

He returned to rehab and this time bowed out of work for the rest of the year, leaving Dec to go it alone on Saturday Night Takeaway an I'm A Celebrity for the first time in their lives.

Dec was so distraught that he needed counselling, and the timing couldn't have been worse with his wife Ali pregnant with their daughter Isla.

And further heartache was in store for Lisa when Ant started dating their former personal assistant Anne-Marie Corbett.

Ant arrived Down Under for I'm A Celebrity 2019 with Anne-Marie
Ant arrived Down Under for I'm A Celebrity 2019 with Anne-Marie

Ant has credited the divorced mother-of-two with being the "fundamental reason for change" in his life, and recently finished renovations on a £6million home for them and her daughters.

And seventeen years on from the very first I'm A Celebrity, it's Anne-Marie who is by Ant's side this year as he makes an eagerly-anticipated return to the jungle.

Gone are the "cold ones" he used to love sinking with Dec, and in their place is an AA tattoo to celebrate his sobriety.

“It means a great deal to me. The tattoo is based on the symbol but is not exactly the same," he told The Sun.

"It’s more about beliefs and principles and where your mind is at in terms of love and being of good service to other humans, moving forward positively. It’s about how I am and how I will live my life in a good way.”

Ant and Dec have been reunited after Holly Willoughby stood in for the former last year
Ant and Dec have been reunited after Holly Willoughby stood in for the former last year

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I'm A Celebrity 2019

For Dec, he's just happy to have his best friend back.

“It has been a tough couple of years and it has tested the bond we have shared since we were 13 years old," he said on ITV's Ant and Dec's DNA Journey.

“It is such a relief to have him back. We are much stronger together and our friendship comes first.”