Nobody watched SM:TV Live when it launched and it had rubbish presenters, Cat Deeley has admitted.
The 43-year-old presenter and wife of Co Down comic Paddy Kielty fronted the Saturday morning ITV show with Ant and Dec from 1998 until 2002.
Deeley said they had been offered an "amazing luxury" to learn on the job and develop genuine chemistry.
Writing in The Big Issue's Letter To My Younger Self column, she said: "People forget, when we started SM:TV we were rubbish. And nobody watched it at all.
"It only stayed on air because Nigel Pickard, who was in charge of ITV kids' programmes at the time, said: 'We've got nothing else to fill the slot with. I know they're rubbish now, but I think they've got something; let's just keep them on, no one's watching anyway.' So we had this amazing luxury, where we were all learning together."