Saturday Night Takeaway returns to screens this weekend after a week's absence. A lot has happened in that time, starting with Ant McPartlin's arrest and charge for drink driving.
The chain of events has remained a hot topic in the media these past two weeks, as ITV made the decision to pull their 24th March episode of Saturday Night Takeaway before announcing that Dec would host the remaining two instalments by himself.
Here we break down exactly what has happened – and what we know of the future for Ant and Dec:
- Why do Ant and Dec matter so much to ITV?
- What's going to happen to Britain's Got Talent following Ant's break from TV?
On Sunday 18th March, Anthony McPartlin was arrested on suspicion of drink driving after being involved in a collision. He was charged on 21st March and will appear at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 4th April.
What about Saturday Night Takeaway?
ITV responded to Ant's arrest by announcing they would not be airing Saturday Night Takeaway on Saturday 24th March, confirming in a statement that they had "taken a joint decision with Ant and Dec's team not to broadcast".
A statement from Ant's publicist added: "Ant has decided to go back into treatment and step down from his current TV commitments. He has spoken with Dec and ITV today and asked for time off for the foreseeable future."
The broadcaster announced a schedule update, airing episodes of Through the Keyhole and Take Me Out in place of Saturday Night Takeaway.
Will the remaining two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway air?
Yes – including the series finale based in Orlando, Florida. But Declan Donnelly will host both episodes by himself, while Ant takes some time off. It will be the first time Dec has fronted a series without his long-term collaborator. The presenter released a statement on Twitter confirming the decision:
Whilst I never thought I'd be in this position, after much discussion and careful consideration we've decided that the remaining two shows of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead. We made a promise to take hundreds of deserving winners to Florida to watch the series finale, and we will honour that. Everyone at ITV and the Takeaway team feels we owe it to the audience to complete the series.
Following Ant's drink-driving charge, series sponsor Suzuki confirmed they would drop their adverts featuring Ant and Dec, stating that "no further material featuring the duo will be aired and Suzuki's endorsement deal with the pair has come to an end." But the car firm did add that they would continue to sponsor the remaining two episodes of the current Saturday Night Takeaway series.
Will Dec have any co-presenters when Saturday Night Takeaway returns?
Not exactly, but he will be supported by Takeaway regulars Scarlett Moffatt (pictured below) and Stephen Mulhern in 'expanded' roles. An ITV source told RadioTimes.com that viewers can expect to see the pair together helping out Dec in the upcoming episodes, including being in the audience to give away places on the plane to Orlando – a role Ant would previously have filled.
Will Ant play any part in the final two episodes?
While he won't feature in any of the live footage, Ant will still appear in the show's pre-recorded segments and Saturday Night Takeaway's opening titles will remain unchanged.
Who are the celebrities taking part in the 31st March episode?
Stephen Merchant has been revealed as the celebrity guest announcer, while musical guests will include The Script and Paloma Faith who will be the star in the End of the Show Show. The broadcast will still feature regular segments like Win the Ads, only this time they'll be presented by Dec on his own.
What do we know about the series finale in Orlando?
It's still going ahead, for one thing, with both Dec and ITV confirming they will fulfil their commitment to broadcast the final episode from Universal Orlando Resort in Florida with a planeload of 200 Takeaway winners, selected from a prize draw. It follows in the footsteps of 2017's finale which aired live from Disneyworld, Florida. Ant will play no part in the live broadcast.
Will Ant and Dec still present Britain's Got Talent?
The auditions were filmed in January and February with both Ant and Dec involved. But a question mark hangs over BGT's week of live shows which is expected to air at the end of May or start of June. It seems unlikely that Ant will be back on screens by then – if he remains absent, will Dec present by himself or with an ITV co-host like Emma Willis or Dermot O'Leary?
ITV put out a BGT trailer earlier this week which was filmed back in February but had no footage of Ant or Dec.
What about I'm a Celebrity?
Rumours emerged that ITV were considering replacing Ant and Dec for the winter reality show but the broadcaster has been quick to refute them, calling reports "utter nonsense". With the ITV series over six months away, the broadcaster has plenty of time to make a call on their presenting line-up.
The current series of Saturday Night Takeaway concludes on Saturday 7th April