I’m a Celebrity referenced Ant’s rehab in the best possible way

Dec joked about Holly Willoughby filling in for his presenting partner – and viewers loved it

(ITV, TL)

The first I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! could have been very awkward, with news of host Ant McPartlin’s recent rehab leaving some wondering whether he’d be able to present this year’s show. But last night’s episode addressed the elephant in the room in a brilliantly playful way.

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Opening the 2017 series, Ant’s presenting partner Declan Donnelly joked, “I’m here with the gorgeous Holly Willoughby!” referencing the rumour Willoughby would be filling in for Ant this series.

Looking to Ant, who was stood just beside him, Dec then added: “Wait, no! Guys that’s the wrong script!” He then told Ant, “No one was sure if you would make it or not!”

“Unbelievable!” Ant exclaimed. “I’m always going to make it! Come on.” The two then enjoyed a MASSIVE hug together.

That wasn’t all. During a link later in the show, the pair discussed a model of the camp they had on the table. Ant, pretending to be unimpressed by the replica, said: “That’s it is it? We’ve been off air a year, a whole year, and that’s what you’ve done? That’s all you’ve done?”

Dec replied: “I spent all summer making that! No help from this one,” pointing at Ant before adding “Where were you all summer? What were you doing?”

Viewers were very happy about the tongue-in-cheek references.

Elsewhere in last night’s opener, the celebs were split into pairs. Soap stars Jennie McAlpine and Jamie Lomas found themselves together, as did former footballer Dennis Wise and footballer’s wife Rebecca Vardy. Made In Chelsea’s Georgia “Toff” Toffolo and “YouTube sensation” Jack Maynard, meanwhile, couldn’t remember where they’d met before “but it was definitely drunk”. Elsewhere, Stanley Johnson paired with comedian Shappi Khorsandi and boxer Amir Khan with singer Vanessa White.

In the first challenge of the series, they were subjected to walk across a wobbly plank on the edge of a 32-storey skyscraper.

For the full low-down of last night’s episode, make sure to check out our recap.

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I’m A Celebrity continues on ITV at 9pm