Dec jokes about hosting solo as Saturday Night Takeaway returns without Ant

Presenter says he has "twice the work to do"

saturday night takeaway dec

Dec Donnelly cracked a joke about his solo hosting debut tonight as Saturday Night Takeaway continued without his best pal Ant McPartlin.

Last week Ant withdrew from his TV commitments and checked in to rehab as he was charged with drink-driving.

ITV responded by taking Saturday Night Takeaway off air for a week, but tonight it returned with just Dec at the helm.

He did not directly address Ant's absence at the start of the show, but thanked the audience for their loud applause, saying: "I really appreciate it."

Dec instead kept the atmosphere upbeat, joking: "This week we've got lots to cram in. I've got twice the amount of work to do!"

He then spoke to special guest announcer Stephen Merchant, who poked fun at their stark height difference.

"I can't help but notice a little bit of space on the stage. Any chance I should come down and announce from down there?" asked Stephen.

"Thanks for the offer, but I think you're fine up there where you are," answered Dec.

"This is not because you don't want me standing next to you?" replied Stephen. "Just cause I'm six foot seven, and you're obviously considerably smaller!"

Later in the show, Dec made a further quip about the news coverage surrounding Ant's controversy.

When the Win The Ads contestant said she hadn't been paying attention to this week's headlines, Dec responded: "For some of us, it's been unavoidable!"

Takeaway bosses were apparently torn on how to address Ant’s situation, with the team said to have been in ‘crisis talks’ as late as yesterday.

Tonight’s episode marked the first time in Ant and Dec’s two-decade partnership that either has presented a show alone.

Dec announced he’d taken the tough decision on Twitter last week, saying: "I never thought I'd be in this position."

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

However, he did have support from Takeaway’s regular co-hosts Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt, whose roles have been ‘expanded’.

Dec will now travel to Florida for Takeaway’s epic series finale, which airs live from Universal Studios next Saturday.

He is also expected to present the live shows of Britain’s Got Talent alone. The talent contest returns for its new series next month.

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