Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have announced that they will be producing a reboot of the teen drama which made them famous – Byker Grove.
The presenting duo shared a video on Twitter, telling fans they had “exciting news” and that 17 years after the show came off air, they would be rebooting the nineties TV classic “for a whole new audience”.
McPartlin and Donnelly – who famously played PJ and Duncan in the original series – will be executive producers and creative consultants on the reboot, which will be called simply Byker.
Like the original show, Byker will be filmed and produced in and around Newcastle and the North East, and the duo will also integrate their Prince’s Trust Making It In Media course into the production.
The presenters said they “owe a lot” to “the very special show… which gave us our breaks,” adding “as proud Geordies, we’re looking forward to help shine a spotlight on the North East and the talent the region has to offer both in front of the camera and behind it”.
They said they would be bringing a “fresh incarnation to a whole new generation”, and that the drama would follow a new group of young people and their families “as they try to navigate the challenges they face today in the 2020s”.
Ant and Dec went on to say they were “buzzing” after talking about characters and storylines, joking about what PJ and Duncan could be doing right now (PJ is performing at Wembley Stadium with his platinum selling rap album apparently).
Teasing the possibility of a cameo, when PJ and Duncan could “pop into The Grove”, they seemed to suggest it was unlikely, adding: “I wouldn’t have thought so.”
Byker is in development with Fulwell 73 – which has previously produced shows including Friends: The Reunion, The Kardashians, Bros: After The Screaming Stops – and also with Mitre Studios who produce Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
Byker Grove , which was created by Coronation Street writer Adele Rose, and Andrea Wonfor – who commissioned shows including The Word, Eurotrash, and The Big Breakfast – first aired on ITV on 8 November, 1989.
While popular with the young people it was created for, some parents criticised the show for tackling some more serious and controversial storylines, previously avoided in children’s TV.
Several characters died in car accidents on the show, and McPartlin’s character PJ was blinded during a paintballing session gone wrong.
Byker Grove also famously showed the first gay kiss on children’s TV in 1994 – the same year as Channel 4 soap Brookside had their own same-sex kiss – attracting multiple complaints from viewers and a fair amount of negative press at the time.
A staple of British television throughout the Nineties and Noughties, it ran for 18 series, finally ending in 2006.
As well as giving Ant and Dec their start in TV, Byker Grove also launched the careers of Donna Air, Jill Halfpenny and Andrew Hayden-Smith.
A release date has yet to be announced for Byker, which will air on the BBC.