After the news Dec’s long-time presenting partner, Ant McPartlin, would not be returning for the next series of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, speculation about who would take up the mantle was rife.
It’s now been ‘100 per cent confirmed’ the new host would be ITV favourite and one half of This Morning‘s dynamic duo, Holly Willoughby.
Questions were raised in regards to when McPartlin would be back on our screens following a turbulent year, and many fans were hoping the pair would reunite in time for the next series of I’m A Celebrity.
However, in a recent statement to The Sun, McPartlin confirmed he’d be taking an extended leave of absence – at least until 2019. This rules him out of any filming commitments for this year and the next series of Saturday Night Takeaway.
The 42-year-old, who rose to fame on the BBC programme, Byker Grove, with Donnelly, stated:
My recovery is going very well and for that to continue having spoken to Dec and ITV, I have made the decision to take the rest of the year off.
I’d like to thank both Dec and ITV for their continued support and I look forward to getting back to work in the new year.
Following the announcment, Donnelly released his own statement, which said:
Whilst I am obviously sad at the thought of being without my best friend in Australia this year, I am proud of the work Ant has been doing privately and I am fully supportive of his decision.
I’m looking forward to us both being reunited on screen in 2019.
In the meantime, Dec will have Holly by his side for the new series of the jungle show.
According to the Mirror, Holly has been lined up as Ant’s replacement for some time now, with ITV keen on getting her in.
While other names had been thrown around as to who could be the replacement, such as Scarlett Moffat and Caroline Flack, Holly was reportedly the first choice by studio bosses.
Both Ant and Dec are, of course, happy with the decision, with Dec even apparently suggesting Willoughby in the first place.
Just as Ant and Dec have their inimitable chemistry, Holly is also known for her onscreen antics with fellow This Morning host, the silver fox Phillip Schofield. However, as there’s been plenty of banter between the two pairs of hosts, the match-up of Dec and Holly is sure to be a success.
Although ITV has said the door is always open for McPartlin to return to hosting, the decision to not host I’m A Celeb, as well as postponing production of their Saturday Night Takeaway series, shows Ant is taking time to focus on his recovery.
McPartlin has been undergoing rehabilitation since March this year, after relapsing into an alcohol addiction, which culminated in a drink-driving incident involving another family.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.