Another year of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! is almost upon us, but this year's season is set to be pretty different to any other. From the start, viewers will notice one person missing from the jungle. But where is Ant on I'm a Celeb? And is he set to make a surprise return to the outback?
Ant McPartlin — who is one half of famed presenting duo Ant and Dec — has been presenting the reality show alongside his best friend for well over a decade. However, he has been suffering from problems with prescription painkillers and alcohol over the past few years.
Although the 42-year-old appeared to be completely fine on TV, he revealed that his private life was a very different matter. After injuring his knee and undergoing botched surgery, Ant became addicted to Tramadol. The prescription drug was first prescribed to him to alleviate pain, but he soon began taking more than he should.
"They’re very easy to get a hold of. That’s the problem with someone who gets addicted, you’ll go to various people," he told The Sun. "I went to three private doctors. That’s how you can get more. I’ve got the means to speak to people."
He revealed that he spent two years battling his addiction, which had progressed from tramadol to "anything" including prescription drugs and non-prescription drugs. He admitted to The Sun that he would take the tablets with alcohol and that doctors had said he could have killed himself.
After a particularly traumatic experience, Ant decided to enter rehab in June 2017, staying for two months. Things appeared to be going well as he appeared on screen for the entirety of the 2017 I'm a Celeb series. But, in January 2018, he filed for divorce from his wife of 11 years, Lisa Armstrong.
In March, the presenter was involved in a car accident in London. The police later confirmed that he was being charged with drink driving. Ant pleaded guilty and received a 20 month driving ban along with an £86,000 fine.
In August, Ant told The Sun that he was still in recovery so had made the decision to take the rest of the year off. "I'd like to thank both Dec and ITV for their continued support and I look forward to getting back to work in the new year," he added. For the public, that meant an Ant-less I'm a Celeb and no Saturday Night Takeaway until 2020. (Pre-production on the latter would have started in mid-2018 for an early 2019 airing.)
Dec, too, released a statement which read: "Whilst I am obviously sad at the thought of being without my best friend in Australia this year, I am proud of the work Ant has been doing privately and I am fully supportive of his decision. I’m looking forward to us both being reunited on screen in 2019."
It was later announced that Dec would not be presenting the series alone and that This Morning's Holly Willoughby would be joining him in Australia for the entire 2018 season. Willoughby has continually spoken of her 'temporary' role, saying in a statement that she was only keeping Ant's shoes "warm for a little bit." She is also going to honour the presenter by standing on the viewers' left at all times.
Holly and Dec may not have the same ring to it, but a slightly awkward name change is well worth it when you're supporting someone in their time of need.