Ant McPartlin pokes fun at rehab stint as he returns to I'm A Celeb

The TV star is back on screens with partner Declan Donnelly

Gemma Strong

Ant McPartlin made his highly-anticipated return to TV on Sunday night for the launch of I'm A Celebrity 2017. Looking happy and healthy, the 42-year-old was in high spirits as he joined his screen partner Declan Donnelly for the start of the new series – with the pair playfully addressing Ant's stay in rehab over the summer during their opening segment. "Welcome to Australia! We are back and we are here for the next three weeks, your hosts with the most, me and the gorgeous Holly Willoughby," Dec began, poking fun at reports that Ant was going to be replaced by Holly for the 2017 series. "Sorry, what?!" Ant replied. "Guys - that is the wrong script. You have put the wrong script on the screen," Dec continued, before turning to his friend and saying: "Nobody was sure if you'd make it or not. We didn't know if you'd be here." "Unbelievable. I was always gonna make it, come on! I'm back my friend," Ant replied, before the duo shared a big hug, to applause from the production crew.


Ant and Dec shared a warm hug as they addressed Ant's stay in rehab over the summer

Later on in the show, there was another reference to Ant's rehab stint, as the pair examined a small model of the jungle camp together. "That took me all summer to make that. On my own, Dec, 42, told Ant. "Where were you all summer? What were you doing?" Laughing and awkwardly sipping his tea, Ant replied: "Just stuff. I was dead busy… Roll VT."

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Ant and Dec's return went down a storm with fans, who quickly took to social media to compliment Ant on his healthy appearance. "So great to see Ant back where he belongs," one wrote. "It takes a very brave person to publicly go through what he has and come back even stronger." Another added: "When Ant said, 'Of course I'm back' and him and Dec hugged, it was so emosh. Can't not love this pair." A third added: "Glad you're back Ant. Wouldn't be the same without you."

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The duo have been hosting I'm A Celebrity together since 2002

Ant spent two months in rehab over the summer, battling an addiction to prescription pills. Speaking to the Sun in August, he explained: "I was at the point where anything – prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs - I would take. And take them with alcohol, which is ridiculous. The doctors told me, 'You could have killed yourself.'"

STORY: Why Dec's wife Ali Astall is in Australia but Ant's wife Lisa Armstrong isn't