Holly Willoughby’s stint on I’m A Celebrity has proven that ITV isn’t over-reliant on Ant and Dec, according to its chief executive.
The duo have long been ITV-exclusive talent, fronting many of the network’s biggest entertainment brands over the last two decades.
However, last year their partnership was put to the test when Ant took an extended break from television following his drink-driving conviction.
Dec fronted Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent on his own - the first time he'd ever presented solo.
He then teamed up with Holly for I’m A Celeb, attracting the jungle show some of its highest ratings ever.
The series averaged a whopping 12million viewers, many of whom praised Holly's temporary hosting stint.
ITV boss Carolyn McCall says that, while that huge success doesn’t “take away” from Ant and Dec, it does prove the channel isn’t "dependent" on the Geordie duo.
“Ant and Dec are fantastic for ITV. They are brilliant. But it showed that we have lots of talent at ITV,” she told the Broadcasting Press Guild.
“Ant would be the first person to say that Holly did brilliantly in the jungle and we were able to do that with no fuss.”
Discussing Ant's "right decision" to step out of the limelight, she continued: “We knew that left a big hole.
“But I’m A Celebrity couldn’t have done better. It was the highest rating it ever got. So I think we have a depth of talent and we are able to move them around.
“You never want to be dependent on two people and I think that showed we are not. That doesn’t take away from them.”
Carolyn’s comments came as Ant and Dec themselves admitted in an interview with the Guardian that they considered splitting up during the former’s turmoil.
Their ‘golden handcuffs’ deal with ITV is due to expire this year, although they are likely to agree a renewal.
Ant will finally return to our screens next weekend when the new series of BGT kicks off.