TV favourites Ant and Dec have revealed they thought their careers were over when two shows were embroiled in phone-in scandals.

In 2007 they encountered the “worst” time of their working lives when it was discovered phone-ins had been rigged on their Gameshow Marathon and Saturday Night Takeaway. For this and other failings ITV was fined more than £5million by regulator Ofcom.

Dec, whose full name is Declan Donnelly, told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs: “We thought that was probably it. I think the viewers would have been justified in thinking their trust had been breached and if that had been the end I don’t think we could have had many complaints.

“It was, without doubt, our worst moment, our worst point. Totally. We couldn’t quite comprehend how it was allowed to happen.”

The duo, both 38, appeared together on the radio show. Ant, full name Anthony McPartlin, added: “I think our audience trust us and with that case we worried that the trust had gone.

“It did affect us… it was probably the worst part of our career. We were credited as executive producers. A lot of people said, you are executive producers, you should have known this was going on, but we didn’t.”

The pair, who also present I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! and Britain’s Got Talent, credited the National Television Awards with saving them when they won three gongs voted for by viewers.

“It was an emotional night because there is the realisation that maybe all is not lost and we started going about our work and trying to rebuild our trust with the viewer and hope that we could get back to where we were,” said Dec.