Declan Donnelly has issued a statement following Ant McPartlin’s decision to step down from current TV commitments.
The 42-year-old has confirmed he will go ahead and present the final two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway without his TV partner.
Ant has stepped down from TV work and returned to treatment following his arrest on suspicion of drink-driving on Sunday.
In a statement, Dec said: “Whilst I never thought I’d be in this position, after much discussion and careful consideration we’ve decided that the remaining two shows of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead.”
“We made a promise to take hundreds of deserving winners to Florida to watch the series finale, and we will honour that.
“Everyone at ITV and the Takeaway team feels we owe it to the audience to complete the series.”
He signed off: “Dec x.”
A similar statement issued by ITV confirmed that Dec will present the final two Saturday Night Takeaway episodes without Ant.
It read: “ITV can confirm that Saturday Night Takeaway, presented by Declan Donnelly, will return on March 31, and the series finale will be taking place at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida a week later.”
This weekend’s Saturday Night Takeaway has been cancelled.
The final episode will see hundreds of competition winners flown in a specially-chartered plane to Orlando, Florida and given passes to Universal Orlando Resort, where the episode will broadcast from.
Ant, 42, was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving following a three-car collision in South West London on Sunday afternoon. He was released under investigation as inquiries continue.
Ant is now returning to treatment and has asked for time off work for the “foreseeable future”.
His publicist said in a statement: “Ant has decided to go back into treatment and step down from his current TV commitments. He has spoken with Dec and ITV today and asked for time off for the foreseeable future.
The star checked himself into rehab last year after an addiction to prescription painkillers brought on after a painful knee operation.
He returned to work in November, joining Dec to host I’m A Celebrity in Australia.
It’s unclear whether Ant will return for this year’s I’m A Celebrity or the Britain’s Got Talent live shows. The auditions stages of BGT, which feature both Ant and Dec, have already been filmed and will air next month.
Earlier today, Piers Morgan had urged Dec to continue solo while Ant sought treatment.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he’d said: “If one of the duo is going through such problems as Ant’s been going through for such a sustained period of time, and now probably won’t be on TV again this year, I suspect, what does Dec do?
“He has the rest of Takeaway coming up, you’ve got Britain’s Got Talent, you’ve got I’m A Celebrity, does Dec have to come off TV as well?”
“I think if Ant were to say publicly ‘the show must go on’… they have big teams of people working for them on these shows and their livelihoods are affected as well.
“I think that would be the right thing to do and Dec should carry on with somebody else if necessary.
“You can see what’s going through [Dec’s] mind. He’s devastated for his mate but he’s also worried about the Ant & Dec brand, it’s the biggest in the country on television.
“I think the time has come, given it’s the second time around now in the last 18 months… it’s not selfish but he has to look after himself, too. He’s a very successful guy in his own right as well.”
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