The boys have a true bond after making a pact

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Ant And Dec admit that their friendship is strong enough to be called love.

The presenting duo have been best pals – as well as work colleagues – ever since they met on children’s drama Byker Grove when they were 12 and they’ve been through an awful lot together.

But Ant McPartlin has noticed that not everybody understands his bond with Declan Donnelly.

‘We love each other, definitely’ says Ant, 39.

‘A lot of people don’t seem to be able to get their heads round it but just because we’re on TV, it doesn’t mean that our friendship should differ from two people who work in a call centre together and are best mates.’

It’s no wonder Ant And Dec are so close after being friends for so long. It all started when Ant McPartlin sent Declan Donnelly a Christmas Card in 1990 and invited him to a football match.

‘And that was that,’ reveals Ant.

‘It just happened immediately. We clicked. We’d spend all day making each other laugh and annoying everyone and quoting Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer lines to each other.’

Declan Donnelly adds: ‘Then we’d go home and phone each other up, go to the football together or stay over at each other’s houses.’

Their bond grew even stronger when they both faced uncertainty in their careers. PJ and Duncan – their characters in Byker Grove – were written out of the series and the boys weren’t sure what was next for them.

‘We made a pact,’ says Dec, 39.

‘We said to each other, “Look, whatever happens, I’ll always be there for you and you’re never in this life on your own against the world – you’ve always got a mate looking out for you.”‘

Aw! Luckily for Ant And Dec their careers took off and their friendship remains as resilient as ever too.

The boys live three doors apart in London and go to the pub together once a week to come up with ideas for new ventures.

‘And we like a night out in a nice restaurant every week,’ Ant McPartlin tells Weekend Magazine.

‘It’s our choice to socialise outside work,’ says Dec.

‘And we both get to go to work with our best mate every day. And that keeps our feet on the ground.’

SEE PICTURES The Ant And Dec Story: From Byker Grove to Saturday Night Takeaway

SEE PICTURES Ant And Dec on TV awards red carpet

Anna Francis