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Nods to Ant’s absence as Dec presents Takeaway solo

Declan Donnelly nodded to longterm co-presenter and friend Ant McPartlin’s absence as he hosted Saturday Night Takeaway for the first time on his own.

The decision for Donnelly to front the last two episodes of the series on his own came after McPartlin was charged with drink-driving over a collision in south west London.

Teasing that he had “twice as much work to do”, Donnelly introduced actor Stephen Merchant as the show’s announcer following a performance by Paloma Faith.

Later in the show he quipped he’d have to look conclude the programme himself, saying: “I’ll have to do it myself, like everything else this week.”

Before kicking off a game that required knowledge of current affairs, Donnelly asked the contestant if she had watched the news this week. She said no, to which Donnelly replied: “For some of us it’s been unavoidable.”

Early on in the show, Donnelly showed audiences the soon-to-be closed studio he, McPartlin and Cat Deeley presented a children’s TV programme in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Before the programme, Saturday Night Takeaway’s Twitter account posted a picture of the evening’s script that only featured Donnelly’s name.

The post read: “Just a little photo to prove that we don’t just wing it, there is actually a script!”

McPartlin appeared in the opening credits, which were unchanged from the usual opening clips, as well as in a pre-recorded film called Saturday Knight Takeaway.

The 42-year-old is due to appear in court on Wednesday over a road traffic collision on 18 March.

The crash involved two other cars and resulted in a child in one of the vehicles being taken to hospital as a precaution.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Ant and Dec accept the Best TV Presenter Award on stage during the National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 25, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
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Image: McPartlin (l) and Donnelly have worked together for years

The child is believed to be a three-year-old girl. Others involved were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

ITV suspended Saturday Night Takeaway for a week as result of the police investigation.

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McPartlin’s publicist said the star would be taking time out from his TV commitments.

Donnelly said in a statement that part of the motivation to air the last two episodes was to “honour” a promise made to take “hundreds of deserving winners to Florida” for the series finale.

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