Declan Donnelly shines in Orlando as Saturday Night Takeaway series ends

Dec’s second solo outing was even more assured and confident than last week, says Frances Taylor

Declan Donnelly hosting Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV, FT)

It might have been raining when Declan Donnelly took to the stage to open the finale of Saturday Night Takeaway, but nothing was going to dampen his performance.

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When the presenter stepped in front of the cameras last weekend for the first time without Ant McPartlin, his nerves were palpable. In the first few minutes of the show, the tone of his voice faltered with emotion, he had to catch his breath and in turn we saw in him a rare moment of vulnerability.

Those first night nerves had now been completely and utterly lost.

Which was even more impressive that this introduction involved a complicated opening routine that involved him both dancing and singing live to Everybody Needs Somebody. And it turns out Dec can actually do just fine without anybody.

Dec was calmer, even more assured and even more confident in this episode than he had been the previous week. Then, I wrote that he held his own hosting Takeaway by himself. This time he positively shone.

And the producers definitely didn’t give him an easy ride; quite literally when a segment saw him having to get on a rollercoaster while singing I Will Survive (who OKed these song choices?). Scarlett Moffatt and Stephen Mulhern, playing the same game, screamed from start to finish. Dec remained cool as a cucumber.

Declan Donnelly, Scarlett Moffatt and Stephen Mulhern on Saturday Night Takeaway
Declan Donnelly, Scarlett Moffatt and Stephen Mulhern on Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV)

Being outside of a studio and into the sunshine no doubt helped. It’s far less familiar territory for him compared to a shiny floor TV studio, which was probably no bad thing. Last week he was turning and leaning a lot to his right (a 30-year habit), now he seemed more at ease by himself.

He wasn’t even flustered by the several audio and mic issues that hit the last show, or by Guest Announcer Denise Richards mucking up her lines. At one brief moment Dec did lose his composure when he accidentally walked backwards into a silver lectern, but he recovered promptly in the way only a true pro can.

The End of the Show Show with Jason Derulo further had Dec being run through his paces, putting in a pretty solid Strictly Come Dancing audition as he sang and danced (we’re talking proper choreographed Latin steps, here) alongside professional performers.

When Dec thanked fans for “all the love and support during the series” and signed off the show, he also told us that Britain’s Got Talent returns next week.

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The auditions have already been filmed and recorded, but the show will be going live in a few months. If rumours are to be believed, Dec is being lined up to take them on by himself. And if these two weeks have shown anything, it’s that – if needs be – he’ll handle it all just fine.