Saturday Night Takeaway WILL go ahead without Ant

Saturday Night Takeaway - the show must go on: Dec to present without Ant (C) ITV

Saturday Night Takeaway - the show must go on: Dec to present without Ant (C) ITV - Credit: ITV

Declan Donnelly has announced that he will present without his TV partner Ant when Saturday Night Takeaway returns at Easter. But how hard will it be for two to become one on live TV?

Declan Donnelly has announced that he will present the final two episodes of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway when the show returns at Easter and that the grand finale – due to be filmed in Florida – will go ahead as planned despite his TV partner checking back into rehab.

'While 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 will go ahead,' he said.

'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.'

Ant and Dec go together like bacon and eggs, cheese and wine, love and marriage, tea and biscuits: one without the other is unthinkable and, very possibly, unbankable – but for the first time, it won't be Ant and Dec, it'll be Dec and…ITV hasn't yet confirmed if he'll present alone or with a stand-in presenter.

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The pair are not only firm friends but also keen businessmen, each worth an estimated £62 million and with an astonishing 17 consecutive Most Popular Presenter gongs from the National Television Awards. They are tied in to a number of lucrative contracts which involve them both, rather than singularly and are the key element of two of ITV's biggest rated shows – I'm a Celebrity and Britain's Got Talent: a schedule without A&D is disastrous for the nation's biggest commercial channel.

The best friends have always insisted that neither will go it alone – in their 2010 autobiography Ooh! What A Lovely Pair: Our Story, they promised that 'neither one of us would ever be on our own out there'.

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Dec wrote: 'We've been incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed such a remarkable time. Throughout it all, we've always had one constant that's kept us sane – each other. In two decades, we've never spent more than two weeks apart. 'Some people might not understand it, but our friendship is a massive, massive part of where we are today.'

Ant has announced that he will be stepping down from his TV work and seeking help at a rehabilitation centre following his arrest for suspected drink-driving on Sunday.

A statement read: 'He has spoken with Dec and ITV today and asked for time off for the foreseeable future. As such, Saturday Night Takeaway will not be going ahead this Saturday. '

ITV, meanwhile, has said it will be 'reviewing options for the last two episodes of the series which would not feature Ant who is taking time off to seek treatment.'

Just weeks after the pair celebrated the 100th episode of their show Saturday Night Takeaway with a 35 per cent share of the audience making it the most-watched show of the night has come the arrest and *that* video of a dazed Ant stepping out from his black Mini after a collision.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan said: 'I'd say to [Ant] 'as a friend you're throwing away your career, you can't afford many more headlines like this' It's Dec I feel sorry for more than Ant because Ant is in control of his own behaviour and is making bad choices. Dec is the collateral damage. Dec has done nothing wrong yet his show is off air Saturday.'

He added: 'I've known Ant for a very long time, a great down to Earth lad. Lisa his wife does my make-up on Life Stories.

Ant has now checked back into rehab following the accident, which saw a girl of three injured and requiring hospital treatment. Ant was arrested at the time, having failed a road-side breathalyzer test. He was later seen arriving home having been released while the police continue to investigate.

The pair are one of a rare breed of presenters who genuinely like each other off-screen rather than just pretending for the camera – and it's that friendship and love that we as viewers hope will overcome any mountains the pair have to climb in the following months. You'd need a heart of stone not to be rooting for Ant – while more than accepting that if he has done wrong, he is held accountable - to get help and for Dec to get his buddy back quickly.

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