Television duo Ant and Dec have secured a £40 million golden handcuffs deal with ITV, reports claim.

If confirmed the vast figure would place the pair at the top end of the television personality market, alongside music mogul Simon Cowell and BBC presenter Jonathan Ross.

The figure is huge compared to that secured by the pair in 2004, when they were paid a £5 million contract.

The 31-year-old Saturday Night Takeaway presenters, whose path to fame began on Byker Grove 18 years ago, are currently in the US filming a pilot for American television channel ABC.

It seems clear that ITV are not keen on using their primetime ratings-pullers, who have also recently presented reality show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!

Ant and Dec are reportedly returning to the UK next week when they will sign the deal, the Daily Mail reports.

"We are currently in discussions with Ant and Dec. We cannot confirm anything at the moment but this is a very important deal for ITV," a spokesperson said.

07/04/2007 12:43:54