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Ant McPartlin checks Declan Donnelly and Holly Willoughby’s comments about his absence

Holly and Dec launched the show last night

Ant McPartlin has apparently been able to vet what Declan Donnelly and new co-host Holly Willoughby have said about his absence on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.

For the first time in I’m A Celeb history Ant isn’t hosting with sidekick Dec, as he takes time out from the spotlight following his drink-driving conviction earlier this year.

Ant McPartlin Declan Donnelly I'm A Celeb
Ant and Dec have presented the show since it began in 2002 (Credit: ITV)

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According to a source, Dec, 43, has been in constant contact with pal Ant, also 43, to make sure he isn’t offended by any comments made about him not being present.

Dec and Holly, 37, reportedly rehearsed several different versions of last night’s show opener, and also sent scripts to Ant so he could look over them.

Holly Willoughby Dec Donnelly I'm A Celeb
Holly has stepped in for Ant while he takes a break from TV (Credit: ITV)

A source told The Sun: “The pressure was on in the opening scene to both introduce Holly and explain Ant’s absence from the series for the time in 16 years, but also keep it light and funny for the family show.

“Dec was sure to keep Ant in the loop on that particular link as he didn’t want to seem at all insensitive, but the discussions with the production team about the exact wording were taken right to the wire.

“Everyone felt the pressure was on to hit just the right note, without an uncomfortable situation coming across that way on-screen and several suggestions were scrapped along the way.”

Last night saw This Morning’s Holly make her debut alongside Dec, where the pair made references to Ant not being there.

Dec quipped: “Good evening and welcome to Australia, where the more eagle-eyed viewers among you would have already noticed a big change to this year’s show.

“Yes, one of the most gorgeous presenters on British television has been joined by Holly Willoughby. Hey! Holly’s here everybody!”

While Holly added: “Hi. This is so weird.”

Holly Willoughby's I'm A Celebrity debut
She made her debut with I’m A Celeb veteran Dec last night (Credit: ITV)

She continued: “Thank you. Normally about this time I’m at home pouring myself a big glass of white wine to watch you,” to which Dec added, “And tonight she’s already drunk it.

“It’s a little bit different because I’ve never done it with a girl before. I usually do it with a bloke. Every night. People seem to like it.”

Ant wished Holly and his best friend luck ahead of their first show together, tweeting: “@antanddec. All the very best of luck to the little fella and @hollywills for the show tonight. Lots of love from the big fella!! A #ImACeleb Xxxxxx”.

He has now jetted off to a secret holiday location with girlfriend Anne-Marie Corbett, 42, while I’m A Celeb is on. He is expected to return to TV next year.

Viewers have given a mixed reaction to Holly’s first appearance as Dec’s co-presenter.

Holly Willoughby adjusts to jungle life
The presenter will have to get to grips with jungle life for the next three weeks (Credit: This Morning)

Read more: Dec rubbishes rumours he is going solo without Ant

While some praised her bravery and told her she was doing a brilliant job on social media, others lamented that Ant is irreplaceable.

We think you are doing fab, Holly!

What do you think of Holly’s debut on I’m A Celeb? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think.