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

Ant is missing the show as he is seeking treatment in rehab after he was charged with drink-driving

Ainhoa Barcelona

Declan Donnelly returned to present Saturday Night Takeaway on his own at the weekend, following last week's cancellation. Presenting the show solo for the first time ever, Dec started the show by thanking everyone for their support, "thank you very much indeed, thank you for that very, very warm welcome. I really appreciate it," he told the audience who gave him a standing ovation.

"Have a seat, have a seat," he told them. "We have got a jam-packed show, this week we have lots to cram in and twice the amount of work to do," he joked as he coyly addressed the fact that Ant will be absent from the last two episodes of the hit ITV show. The popular presenter, who is expecting his first child with wife Ali Astall, kept addressing his solo presenting duties very comically throughout to the show, prompting the audience to cheer loudly and applaud every time he did it.

Ant was arrested earlier this month after he was involved in a three-vehicle road collision in Richmond. The TV star failed a breathalyser test and was taken to a local police station; he was charged with drink-driving three days later. Following his arrest, Ant made the decision to return to rehab and take a step back from work commitments. He spent a few months in rehab last summer, admitting himself for painkiller addiction.

Saturday Night Takeaway was cancelled the week after Ant's car accident, but the show returned for Easter weekend. Dec had previously confirmed that he would present alone, writing on Twitter: "Whilst I never thought I'd be in this position, after much discussion and careful consideration we've decided that the remaining two shows of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead.

MORE: All the times Ant and Dec have appeared on TV separately

"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."

The show shared a picture of the script, featuring just Dec's name, on Saturday morning

On Saturday night, Dec was joined by the show's other regular presenters, Scarlett Moffatt and Stephen Mulhern, who had a more expanded role. Scarlett and Stephen helped Dec give away Orlando plane tickets to audience members – a task Ant would have done. The End of the Show Show was also more of an 'ensemble' performance, where Dec was joined on stage by his fellow presenters and special guest Paloma Faith, who performed.

Also on the show was Stephen Merchant who congratulated Dec on his impending fatherhood. "Can I just say, congratulations on your forthcoming baby, I for one can't wait to pop round your house and hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet... it will be you coming to the door," he joked.

MORE: Ant and Dec dropped by Suzuki following drink-driving charge

Fans did, however, catch a glimpse of Ant on Saturday night's episode. He had pre-recorded the whodunnit segment, Saturday Knight Takeaway, which he filmed prior to his car crash and rehab stay. Show bosses had reportedly been weighing up whether to scrap the segment, but decided to go ahead with it.

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