Dec by himself on Saturday Night Takeaway

Dec’s solo appearance on Saturday Night Takeaway smashes ratings 

Viewers also praised Dec's presenting skills after going it alone 

Emmy Griffiths

Declan Donnelly's solo act on Saturday Night Takeaway was a huge hit with viewers, as Saturday's show brought in an average of 7.7 million viewers and peaked at 8.6 million people, bringing in 42 percent of the overall TV viewers, which was a record for the already popular show. Previously, the show's most popular episode brought in 37 percent of total viewing audiences. Fans of the show praised Dec for flying solo on the show after his best friend and co-presenter, Anthony McPartlin, was arrested on drink-driving charges after a car collision in March.

Ant was praised for his performance

Dec, who recently announced he is expecting his first child with his wife, Ali Astall, received a standing ovation from the audience after making his entrance onto the show, and only made one small reference to Ant, saying that he had "twice the amount of work to do" for the duration of the show. Taking to Twitter to discuss Dec's presenting skills without Ant, one person wrote: "I don’t think this country has ever wanted to hug someone so much #SaturdayNightTakeaway," while another added: "Declan Donnelly has just pulled off a double act performed by one person. Get this man a knighthood. #SaturdayNightTakeaway."

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READ: Fans praise Dec after he flies solo for first time on Saturday Night Takeaway

Dec tweeted a huge thank you to fans following the episode, writing: "Thanks for all your lovely messages tonight, they are VERY much appreciated, I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I didn’t sleep an awful lot last night so I’m off to bed! Night y’all." The 42-year-old confirmed he would present the show by himself following Ant's arrest with a statement which read: "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. Dec x."

READ: Dec jokes he has 'twice the work to do' as Saturday Night Takeaway returns to TV