Saturday Night Takeaway viewers have been left 'gutted' and 'sobbing' following the news that Ant and Dec will step back from the ITV show.

The broadcaster has confirmed that the Geordie duo Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly will 'take a break' from the Saturday night entertainment programme after the 2024 series.

The award-winning presenters have said that reaching the “milestone” of 20 series seemed like the “perfect time to pause for a little while and catch our breath.”

The hit series has previously taken a pause in 2009 before returning four years later in 2013.

“We love making Saturday Night Takeaway, but reaching the milestone of 20 series seemed like the perfect time to pause for a little while and catch our breath,” McPartlin addressed fans on social media on Thursday.

Donnelly added: “We still have a momentous 20th series to look forward to first so we will do our best to go out (for now) with a bang in 2024.”

Ant and Dec promise 'very special look backs' in new Saturday Night Takeaway series

The award-winning presenters promised “some very special look-backs” and “exciting new items” for their 20th series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

In a video posted to Instagram, they said that they were taking “a breather” from the show, which “takes up such a lot of our year”.

“Next year in 2024 it will be the 20th series of Saturday Night Takeaway and we’ve got some very special look-backs planned, as well as some very exciting new items,” McPartlin said.

Donnelly said: “And we’ve also decided that our 20th series next year will be our last one for a little while.

“The show takes up such a lot of our year, we just feel we need a little bit of a breather, and that the show is going to take a little bit of a rest.”

“But before that though, we’ve got the 20th series to plan,” McPartlin said.

Fans have rushed to their comments section to express their love for the programme and its presenters.

Oxford Mail: Saturday Night Takeaway launched in 2002. ( ITV)Saturday Night Takeaway launched in 2002. ( ITV) (Image: ITV)

One viewer shared:"Excited for the 20th series but gutted it will take a break after that but that’s understandable!

"I know it takes up most of your year to plan the show so you boys deserved a well earned rest and quality time with your loved ones!"

A second user chimed in: " NO!!!! Now what am I gonna do with my life?!!!"

While a third posted with a sad-faced emoji: "I look forward to this on a Saturday night."

With another fan writing on Twitter: "I CANT NO SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY IS MY FAV IM SOBBING."

Launching in 2002, Saturday Night Takeaway has received multiple Bafta and National Television Awards (NTA), including presenting accolades for Ant and Dec.

The pair will continue their exclusive working relationship with ITV, as hosts of popular shows including I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Britain’s Got Talent and Limitless Win.

The most recent series of Saturday Night Takeaway aired in February and attracted 6.4 million viewers which was ITV1’s biggest overnight audience of the year.

Kevin Lygo, ITV managing director, media and entertainment, said: “When you think of Saturday night television you think of Saturday Night Takeaway.

“Over 20 series the show has become a cultural phenomenon, and while we eagerly anticipate what Ant & Dec have up their sleeves for the 2024 series, we completely understand their desire to take a pause, take stock, and think about what the next incarnation of the show might look like.”