Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are closer than ever, despite some tensions in recent years, according to one half of the beloved TV double act.
One year on from the car crash spurred on by drink-driving, McPartlin has spoken candidly about how ‘angry’ Donnelly was after the incident.
McPartlin was arrested for drink-driving on Sunday, March 18 last year (2018), and swiftly went into rehab to treat addiction to prescription drugs – but not before the lifelong friends and colleagues could share a few words, the 43-year-old recalled.
Speaking to The Sun about the aftermath of the crash, Ant recalled:
I saw Dec the day after the crash and we didn’t even speak work. It wasn’t about that. It was about, ‘How are you?’ I said: ‘I’m not right.’
You know, mentally I wasn’t in a good place. We’re friends first and foremost. And we’re friends from the age of 13.
But of course there’s going to be tensions there. Because this is not just getting pissed and making a fool of yourself at the office Christmas party — this is drink-driving.
McPartlin was ordered to pay £86,000 – believed to be Britain’s biggest ever drink-driving fine – after entering a guilty plea, and banned from the road for 20 months.
The charge stated he had 75 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.
Ant said he was grateful for the support he’s been offered by his friend since, adding:
He’s angry, of course he’s angry. But it’s justified and I understood it. Underneath all of that is love and still is love. And that’s what we talked about more than anything.
As Ant was embarking on his programme of recovery in rehab, Dec, also 43, decided the show must carry on with the agreement of his mate.
Ant, saying he had to ‘lock himself away’, continued:
It was absolutely the correct decision for Dec to carry on with Takeaway. If it had been the other way, I would have done the same.
But I was taking time out of life, not just work. Work was secondary. I said to Dec, ‘I just need to take time out and re-evaluate and get better and deal with things going on in my life. It will take as long as it takes.’
I’m very lucky that I’ve got an understanding business partner and best friend who said, ‘Absolutely, your head is more important than anything.’
Dec was forced to present the last two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway solo, and the pair made a ‘quick decision’ for Dec to continue alone on the Britain’s Got Talent live show too.
He was joined by Holly Willoughby for I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Ant said it was the ‘right decision’, as he ‘wasn’t ready’ to go back on TV.
Senior executives at ITV also supported his decision to take an extended break, he said:
We’ve been on that channel since 1998 and worked our socks off. They were like, ‘Take as long as you want. Your job is always here when you want to come back, just get yourself well.’
Ant concluded by telling his fans he feels ‘good’ and is looking forward to getting back to work, saying his ‘love affair’ with his career saved him: ‘My saving grace was work on Saturdays. Getting through the weeks was tough.’
Welcome back, Ant and Dec!
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