Simon Cowell made compromise with Ant and Dec when they threatened to quit

While Britain's Got Talent judges have come and gone over the years, Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly have stuck through it all.

Worshipped by the nation, the Geordie duo's are a massive reason why millions tune in to the ITV talent contest.

But when the pair reached breaking point with the show in 2012, it seemed they were destined to leave.

Ant and Dec are well-known for being constant professionals and were putting in long days on set interviewing hopefuls before and after their auditions.

But they became increasingly angry at the behaviour of Simon Cowell, which left them wanting to quit BGT.

The music mogul regularly turned up late to auditions, forcing Ant and Dec to wait ages for him to arrive so they could carry on filming.

It eventually took its toll and the presenters confessed it "drove them nuts" in new autobiography Once Upon A Tyne, which was released in September this year.

Ant and Dec explained they would often film interviews with that day's hopefuls, then have some food, and realise Simon had still not arrived.

With Simon's tardiness becoming a key feature of every day, the annoyed lads started to contemplate their future as presenters of the show.

But that was not the only problem that the double act faced.

Ant and Dec interacted with every single act and gave everything to their work, but were unhappy at how little they featured in the show when it aired.

Feeling "sidelined" by BGT bosses, Ant and Dec could not understand why so many of the scenes that spent hours tirelessly filming were not used.

"We began to feel that we were wasting our time doing the auditions because all the footage of the work we were doing was ending up on the cutting-room floor," said Ant in an extract of the book seen by The Sun.

They complained that they were wasting their time which could be better used on other projects, particularly with Saturday Night Takeaway's imminent return adding to their already busy schedule.

Ant and Dec stunned the bosses at ITV by revealing their plans.

"We’d been to see the bosses at ITV and told them we were strongly considering leaving BGT," wrote Dec.

"At that stage, it felt like it may as well have been anyone hosting the show and we said that when our current contract expired, we thought it was time to move on."

It even got to the stage where Dec woke up on the last day of the 2012 audition tour in Birmingham thinking it would be his final every day watching new acts.

But ITV were not willing to let the much-loved presenters leave without a fight.

They informed Simon of Ant and Dec's plans to leave, so he quickly decided to fly them out to LA to clear the air.

Desperate to keep the Geordie lads, Simon frantically arranged crunch talks so that he could try to convince them to stay in a face-to-face chat.

Having a lot of respect for Simon, Ant explained that they were keen to have a "serious conversation" with the music mogul.

The trio met at West Hollywood restaurant Ceconni's – and this time Simon was only one minute late for their crunch talks.

There was awkward small talk at the start as Simon started to speak about how successful the previous series was.

But the boys were not there for pleasantries and "let him have it with both barrels".

Explaining all their issues, Ant and Dec told Simon they could be doing other projects if they weren't being used.

They told him that another set of presenters could take over.

While this was happening, they noticed Simon rapidly rattling through four or five cigarettes as he intently listened.

With Simon determined to keep Ant and Dec on BGT, he made them a promise that things would change.

Not wanting them to leave, Simon promised that things would change.

"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," explained Dec.

“At the end of the evening, Simon offered us a lift back to our hotel in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

"We were only staying around the corner, but apparently nobody walks anywhere in LA; plus, we’d never been in a Rolls-Royce before, so we said yes, settled the bill and made our way to the car.”

Simon also managed to convince the boys to stay by coming up with a trade-off – that is still in use to this day.

Realising they had to come up with some kind of compromise, Simon decided they would all work earlier.

Giving his side of the story in Ant and Dec's new book, Simon praised the presenters for working with him through their problems and for not being divas.

Simon said: "If they’re p****d off, they’ll tell me to my face. If they’ve got something to say, they say it themselves, which I respect."

Once Upon A Tyne: Our Story Celebrating 30 Years Together On Telly is available to buy here.

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