Dec pays tribute to Ant after hosting finale of Saturday Night Takeaway alone
Declan Donnelly paid tribute to Ant McPartlin after he hosted the series finale of Saturday Night Takeaway alone.
Donnelly helmed last night's live episode from the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida without his presenting partner McPartlin, who has taken a step back from TV commitments following a drink-driving charge.
Ant McPartlin has taken time out from his TV career after being charged with drink-driving.
After the episode went off air, Donnelly thanked the audience for their support during the series, adding that it had been "fun" but "tinged with sadness".
He asked the audience for a round of applause for McPartlin, "who is back at home", adding: "He'll appreciate that."
McPartlin has been absent from the ITV series in recent weeks. He was charged on March 21 after allegedly being involved in a collision with two other cars while driving his Mini in Richmond, West London, on March 18.
The variety show was cancelled for one week, but Donnelly returned to host it alone last Saturday.
He took over presenting duties for the series finale in Florida, alongside support presenters Scarlett Moffatt and Stephen Mulhern, after spending several days in the sunny resort.
He opened the show by showing off his singing and dancing skills, delighting viewers with his rendition of Everybody Needs Somebody To Love while accompanied by a Blues Brothers tribute act.
Donnelly also had the audience laughing as he joked it "literally just started to rain" during the live broadcast.
McPartlin made a brief appearance in a pre-recorded comedy sketch for the show called Saturday Knight Takeaway. The segment also starred the likes of Joanna Lumley, Noel Edmonds, Judy Murray, Emilia Fox, Katie Price, Bill Roache and Gareth Malone.
The show also featured R&B star Jason Derulo, actress Denise Richards as the guest announcer, singer Craig David as the resident and pop duo The Rembrandts.
The American pop-rock duo performed their classic hit and Friends theme tune I'll Be There For You in an interactive segment, which saw three viewers in different locations in the UK tasked with filling in the missing words. Donnelly made a humorous guest appearance during Derulo's performance at the end of the show, joining him on stage clad in a colourful conga-style costume and showing off his moves.
He signed off the jam-packed show by thanking fans for "all the love and support during the series".
A family who won a trip to Orlando heaped praise on Donnelly for ensuring the show went ahead. More than 200 lucky viewers were flown out to Florida this week for the programme's live finale, and Dec said he wanted to "honour" the trip for them.
Among the winners were nine-year-old Angel Sutton from Scarborough, who travelled in the specially-chartered Virgin Holidays plane for the airing of the episode with mum Tina, dad Paul, and foster brother Alec. Angel described the week as "the best trip ever", while Tina, who adopted her daughter when she was a baby, labelled Dec "incredible" for continuing without his regular TV partner of nearly 30 years.