If you ask me, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are the kings of British TV. They first graced our screens back in 1990, when they secured the roles of P.J. and Duncan in Byker Grove. Since then, the real-life BFFs have been inseparable both on and off screen as they've gone on to establish themselves as ITV's go-to presenting duo for everything from Britain's Got Talent to Saturday Night Takeaway. But now, Dec is without Ant for reasons beyond his control. So, who's going to replace Ant on I'm A Celebrity once the new series starts?
Work has already begun on the upcoming season, and with Ant unable to commit to hosting alongside his best friend, it's believed producers are currently in talks discussing potential replacements to join Dec in the jungle. But who do they think is up to the job because they've got some huge shoes to fill.
The current favourite, according to William Hill, is previous I'm A Celeb winner and Gogglebox favourite Scarlett Moffatt, with odds of 3/1. She's had previous presenting experience on last year's StreetMate, and has already appeared alongside Dec on Saturday Night Takeaway. She's also a fellow Geordie, so that classic north east dynamic shouldn't stray too far.
Meanwhile, Stephen Mulhern is in second place at 7.2, David Walliams is at 5/1, and Holly Willoughby is at 8/1. However, William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly tells me that last year's jungle queen Georgia Toffolo may be the dark horse in this race. He says: "Toff’s win in the jungle last year remains fresh in the memory and no doubt she will be in Australia in some capacity and her odds of bagging the co-presenting job have been dramatically slashed."
Ant confirmed earlier this month that he is taking a break from work as he continues to recover from prescription drug and alcohol problems. "My recovery is going very well and for that to continue having spoken to Dec and ITV, I have made the decision to take the rest of the year off," he said in a statement. "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."
The host will be taking time off until at least the start of next year, meaning he will not be hosting the 2019 series of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, as filming for the series (which airs in February) starts the summer before. Dec commented: "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.”
In a joint statement released by Ant and Dec, the pair explained that they did not want to "compromise the quality of" Saturday Night Takeaway, and so, Dec will not have Ant by his side when the show returns. Instead, the presenting duo are planning to "bring the show back in 2020, bigger and better than ever."