ITV boss confirms Dec to get a new I’m a Celebrity co-host: “He will be doing it with somebody”

Declan Donnelly will be joined by a new presenter as Ant McPartlin sits out the 2018 jungle series after extending screen absence

Declan Donnelly, Getty, SL

ITV boss Kevin Lygo has confirmed that Declan Donnelly will NOT present the upcoming series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! by himself.

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Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the channel’s director of television revealed that Dec will be joined by a co-presenter for the Australian jungle reality series which will return this November without Ant McPartlin after the TV presenter decided to extended his leave of absence into next year.

Ant – who was convicted of drink driving in April 2018 – has been absent from screens since his arrest in March. Dec presented the final two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway solo and also fronted this year’s Britain’s Got Talent live shows by himself.

But Lygo has made it clear that his presenter will get a co-host for I’m a Celebrity, telling an audience in Edinburgh: “We collectively all thought let’s give [Ant] a good amount of time off because these things are a slow procedure. He’s not going to go to the jungle. Dec is and we will find someone to stand next to Dec.”

Asked whether he had decided on the new presenter, Lygo said: “yes I have”, before teasing, jokily: “it’s Piers Morgan. It could be anybody. It could be Jeremy Corbyn.”

Dec won widespread praise for his solo work earlier this year, but I’m a Celebrity is a different proposition, with much of the show’s success reliant on the sketches and banter between the two hosts.

Many fans have been calling for him to be joined on screen by Julia Morris who co-hosts I’m a Celebrity’s Australian series and whose eccentric pieces to camera have gone viral in the past few days:

Along with Ant’s absence from I’m a Celebrity, ITV confirmed earlier this summer that they have decided not to air a 2019 series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

Lygo explained: “Takeaway, [Ant and Dec] actually do an enormous amount of work now…there’s all the hidden camera stuff and it’s a lot of work and it was very important for Ant not to really not worry about doing any work.

“They are so amazingly ‘on it’ and professional and fastidious about their show. And if you held them to a fire, Takeaway is their favourite show. They want it to be bigger and perfect every series.

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“We just felt they were getting constrained and the time was getting cramped so we took the decision not to have it next year. But otherwise they will be back next year. But Dec’s going into the jungle. He will be doing it with somebody.”