Simon Cowell has said he felt for Dec Donnelly having to host alone following his telly partner Ant McPartlin’s drink-drive arrest.
Ant left Dec to present their shows, including Saturday Night Takeaway, Britain’s Got Talent, and I’m A Celebrity – for which he had help from Holly Willoughby – on his own.
Speaking about having Ant, 43, back filming this year’s series of BGT, Simon insisted this is the “happiest” he’s seen the presenter “for a long, long time” and admitted he missed him.
During an appearance on Lorraine alongside his fellow BGT judges Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams, Simon spoke about Ant and Dec being back together.
He said: “It’s like it never happened. That’s when you know it’s comfortable because it’s just like we’re all back together again, we’re friends.
“These things happen. Yeah, I really did miss him. Then I really felt for Dec last year because we really threw him out there.”
He added: “It’s the happiest I’ve seen him for a long, long time.”
Simon’s fellow BGT judge Amanda Holden added: “He looks really healthy. He looks great.”
Ant dropped his work commitments and took the majority of last year off to focus on his recovery following his drink-drive arrest in March.
However, Ant and his Geordie partner Dec reunited at the start of this year to begin filming for the new series of the talent competition.
Just a couple of weeks later, the pair bagged the Best Presenter gong at this year’s National Television Awards.
Accepting the award, Ant said: “Oh wow. Wow. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, very much. This is a genuine shock, especially this year, I’m shaking here. I want to say thank you to everybody.
“I don’t feel I can accept this award this year, the one reason we got it because of this guy, his hard work, dedication, wit, funniness and being the best mate there is, I love you, well done.”
Dec added: “Thank you, thank you to everyone who sent kind and thoughtful messages while I was flying the flag for the two of us, I’ve got him back now.”
Meanwhile, last week, ITV executive Kevin Lygo said Saturday Night Takeaway will definitely be back next year.
Lygo, ITV’s director of television, said: “It will be back next year. It was the right decision, because with Ant, we didn’t want him working last year so it was, it wasn’t just a year off on air, it was a year off from work and getting himself straight.
“And he’s done that really well and I’m delighted he’s back and fit and he’s doing Britain’s Got Talent now.
“There was a tonne of preparation (for Takeaway) and Ant and Dec particularly put so much effort in and work so hard on (it), if you think of how it’s put together… all those things they do are recorded before the year, they would have been done last September, October, November, and we took the decision, Ant took the decision, that he couldn’t sort of half get back into work”.
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