Saturday Night Takeaway's Declan Donnelly JOKES about Ant McPartlin's absence on air

Saturday Night Takeaway's Declan Donnelly JOKES about Ant McPartlin's absence on air

Regular support presenters Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt also lent a helping hand as did guest announcer Stephen Merchant who also referenced Ant's absence on several occasions. "Good luck, Dec. Tough night but we're all rooting for you mate".

The decision to host alone was made after Ant McPartlin was charged with drink driving following a collision in south-west London. "That other bloke was good - you should do some more stuff with him", he joked after Ant made an appearance in Saturday Knight Takeaway. Dec had previously confirmed that he would present alone, writing on Twitter: "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".

A show insider told The Sun: "Explaining Ant's absence has been the hardest part of planning".

"They want to be respectful... while not bringing down the mood of the show".

The source added that producers are anxious that a "sombre start" will affect the show, as it is all meant to be about having fun.

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Presenting the show solo for the first time ever, Dec started the show by thanking everyone for their support, "thank you very much indeed, thank you for that very, very warm welcome".

An insider explained: "It's going to be a unusual feeling fronting the show on his own".

The show - which was cancelled last Saturday - was labelled a success as Dec oversaw an nearly seamless live 90-minute show with his only mishap dropping a carton of popcorn.

Saturday Night Takeaway is said to have been "plunged into chaos" as producers try to decide how to address Ant McPartlin's absence from the show.

"Everyone at ITV and the Takeaway team feels we owe it to the audience to complete the series".

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