Holly Willoughby is rumoured to be close to joining Declan Donnelly to present I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! when it returns later this year.
Yesterday, ITV’s director of television Kevin Lygo declined to reveal who would be stepping in to replace Ant McParlin on the reality show – but now reports claim that Holly is the front-runner for the job.
Dec’s long-time presenting partner will be taking the rest of the year off after stepping back from TV commitments and public appearances following a drink-driving conviction which saw him banned from the road for 20 months and fined £86,000.
The duo have presented the programme in the Australian jungle together since it began in 2002.
Lygo joked: “It’s going to be Piers Morgan. No, I don’t know, it could be Jeremy Corbyn. I can’t say.”
A whole host have names have been in the frame to join Dec, from Holly Willoughby and Caroline Flack, to Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt.
There were even reports that an Australian presenter could join Dec; Julia Morris, co-host of the Australian version of the show, was touted as a potential option.
But The Mirror reports that Holly is the favourite to replace Ant, with their TV insider source saying “talks are at an advanced stage”.
“Not only is she loved by ITV bosses and the nation, but she is also one of Ant’s closest friends,” the source said.
“Flying the flag for him in his absence means the world to her.”
But there are two obstacles to Holly taking the gig – her current job and her family.
The presenters of I’m A Celeb have to spend four weeks filming in Australia, which means someone would have to cover Holly’s regular presenting gig on This Morning.
In addition, it means she would be spending a month away from her husband and three young children.
Speaking about Ant, Kevin said: “The good news is that he’s doing really well, he’s doing everything he should be doing to get better.
“We collectively thought, let’s give it a good amount of time off, this is a slow procedure, that’s what we’ve decided to do.
The duo’s programme Saturday Night Takeaway will not air next year while McPartlin takes his break.
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He said: “With Takeaway, it’s not coming back because we do an enormous amount of work for it now before it airs in February and March, and it’s a lot of work and I think it was important for Ant, from his point of view, to not worry about doing any work.
“They’re so amazing and honest and professional and fastidious about their shows.”
Kevin reckoned Ant and Dec’s favourite show is Saturday Night Takeaway: “They’re so proud of it and they want it to be perfect and bigger and better.”