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The 60-year-old ITV judge has come under fire in recent weeks after the release of Ant and Dec’s book ‘Once Upon a Tyne’. The Geordie duo, both 44, revealed that they nearly quit ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and had difficulties with the TV star. Despite their claims, the presenters posted a photograph on Instagram earlier this month, where they jokingly professed to miss Cowell and posed next to a shrine honouring the star.
Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly first worked with Cowell on the talent competition ‘Pop Idol’ in 1999 and have since gone on to star in many of his shows.
While fronting ‘BGT’, they claimed to have felt “sidelined” and in an explosive row “let him have it with both barrels” in 2012.
They claimed to have grown frustrated with his poor timekeeping, which they said “drives us nuts” and felt they weren’t getting enough airtime.
After their clash, they suggested that “someone else should take over” because they “weren’t being used” – but Cowell managed to win them over.
McPartlin recalled: “To be fair to Simon, he sat there, took it all and listened intently for four, maybe five cigarettes.”
Donnelly 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.”
In another moment of frustration the stars felt they were divorced from the TV judges and mocked Cowell for his eating habits.
McPartlin told Metro in 2014: “There’s been tough stuff. There’s been times when it has been tough professionally. Not always behind the scenes is it sunny.
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“We never see the judges. We’re backstage while they swan around eating tangerines and Simon’s Singapore carrots.”
The duo revealed that they rarely hang out with Cowell aside from during limited moments on-set for the TV show and other short interactions.
Despite their mockery over the judge’s diet, Donnelly revealed that he considered becoming vegan like the star to lose weight last year.
He told the Daily Star: “Simon’s looking good. He’s gone all vegan. Vegan shepherd’s pie, vegan sausages, what’s that about? Is that the secret? I’ll have to look into that!”
Cowell lost more than a stone from the change to his eating habits – a change he started after he was advised to stop consuming “red meat, dairy, sugar, bread and gluten”.
He told Extra TV: “I cut out a lot of the stuff I shouldn’t have been eating and that was primarily meat, dairy, wheat, sugar – those were the four main things.”
‘Once Upon a Tyne: Celebrating 30 Years Together on Telly’ was published by Little, Brown Book Group this year and is available here.
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