ITV has DENIED rumours that Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway is facing the axe in order to reduce presenter Ant McPartlin’s workload.
Bosses opted to rest Takeaway after Ant took time off from his television commitments due to his drink-driving scandal.
His extended break meant the variety extravaganza was unable to complete the pre-production necessary for a new series to air this year.
Although the hiatus was only temporary, a fresh report today suggested the show would not return at all.
The Daily Star suggested the axe could fall on Takeaway to ease the pressure on Ant, one of ITV’s biggest stars.
According to the paper, chiefs are considering new replacement formats, while production staff are looking for new jobs.
“There will be a nervous wait for fans to find out if these claims are true,” an insider commented.
“In the past, TV execs have said shows are safe and they’ve ended up being axed.”
However, an ITV spokesperson has rubbished the claims, insisting the show will return next year as planned.
“Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will return to ITV in 2020,” the rep said.
The move would have come as a major shock, as Takeaway is one of ITV’s biggest ratings winners - and one of few major Saturday night favourites that is not a talent content.
It originally ran between 2002 and 2009, then returned in 2013 after four years off air.
Last year’s fifteenth series was the highest-rating ever, launching with 9million viewers and averaging 8.4million.
Ant’s break began midway through the run, leaving Dec to present the final two episodes alone - the first time in his career that he’d appeared without his partner.
In an interview with the Guardian this week, Ant admitted that the duo have to balance a hectic schedule.
“We hurtled along, it was nonstop. Bullet-train speed. We’d go from one project to another,” he said.
He will make his TV comeback on Saturday, fronting the new series of Britain’s Got Talent.
Meanwhile, ITV is about to debut new Takeaway spin-off In For A Penny, hosted by Stephen Mulhern.