Ant's absence acknowledged as Dec praised for first solo Saturday Night Takeaway

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Davina McCall, guest announcer Stephen Merchant and regular segment presenters Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt all offered support during the show - but Dec was the official solo host.

McPartlin has returned to rehab and pulled out of all TV commitments after he was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving following a three-car crash in south-west London on March 18. "That other bloke was good - you should do some more stuff with him", he joked after Ant made an appearance in Saturday Knight Takeaway.

There had been much speculation over potential replacements for McPartlin, but ITV have confirmed that Donnelly will be going it alone with a Twitter post.

The 42-year-old has been charged with the offence and will appear in court next week.

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Producers are still deciding whether Dec speak about Ant or ignore the matter entirely.

"I've got twice the amount of work to do, so we're going to crack on", Dec said, before moving on quickly to explain what tonight's show has in store.

Dec recently announced that he would be presenting the last two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway on his own.

A show insider told The Sun that SNT bosses have been "torn" in regards to how to address Ant's absence.

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The source added that producers are anxious that a "sombre start" will affect the show, as it is all meant to be about having fun.

After earning heaps of praise from fans following the show, Dec took to Twitter to thank fans for their support, while revealing he didn't get much sleep on Friday night. "But Dec is professional and is determined to do a good job".

"We made a promise to take hundreds of deserving winners to Florida to watch the series finale, and we will honour that".

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