A Hartlepool family had the best seats in the house for a TV variety show.
Darran Hutchinson and his loved ones sat in the sought-after sofa on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
They won the chance to sit in the best spot and watch the ITV1 show being broadcast live after mum and daughter, Helen, 47, and Libby, 10, hunted down one of the sofas that are hidden in different locations around the country each week.
It was at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, which is formerly known as Hartlepool Historic Quay.
Darran, 47, was whisked to London along with his wife, daughter, and sons Nicholas, 25, and Matthew, 19, on Saturday.
Darran, a child and adult team co-ordinator for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “It was absolutely brilliant. As soon as we got off the train we were picked up in a taxi and taken to the studio.
It was a one in a million experience and we feel so lucky that we were able to go there to watch it.Darran Hutchinson
“We went in the bar with the rest of the audience and had drinks and played games until they took us into the studio. We were in there for about an hour before the show starts doing warm-ups with someone, they had us singing and dancing and everything.
“We were given microphones when we got in our seats and watching the show from there was just brilliant. To think the week before we were sat at home watching then this week we were there in the studio was just an amazing experience.”
The show, hosted by the Geordie duo, featured singer Craig David, Doctor Who star David Tennant as guest announcer, Spice Girl Mel B, a special appearance by X Factor champ Leona Lewis, and saw Little Ant and Dec meet up with stars of The Hunger Games, including Jennifer Lawrence.
Darran added: “Ant and Dec were brilliant and the whole thing was just down to a tee. Obviously it’s a live show but everything is planned perfectly and they all know what is meant to happen at every second.
“It was a one in a million experience and we feel so lucky that we were able to go there to watch it.”
Ant and Dec even surprised the family with a takeaway from their favourite Chinese restaurant in Hartlepool, Chow Kee, in Murray Street – but all wasn’t as it seemed.
Darran said: “The producers had been on to me a few times before we went down asking things to catch Helen out with and they got me to get some bags from Chow Kee to secretly give them, but obviously the takeaway was from London, they hadn’t really come all that way to deliver one.
“Having Ashley Roberts from the Pussycat Dolls sat with us too was brilliant. She was really lovely and asked all our names and kept checking in to see if we were enjoying it.
“They’d put loads of sweets out for us and we could have as much to drink as we wanted – including champagne. It was fantastic.”