Declan Donnelly has confessed he felt he had "lost" best friend Anthony McPartlin when he went into rehab for his alcohol and painkiller addiction in 2018. In the forthcoming two-part documentary Ant & Dec's DNA Journey, the award-winning TV duo opened up about Ant's troubles, which saw the presenter taking a two-year break from television. "It has been a tough couple of years and it has tested the bond we have shared since we were 13 years old," explained Dec.
Ant and Dec have been working together for years
"I was incredibly angry at the start, so angry. Disappointed that he didn't ever come to me and say, 'I am struggling, I need you,' because that is what I would do if the shoe was on the other foot. And he never came to me and that hurt me a lot." Ant added: "I knew he was angry and understandably so because my actions affect him and his loved ones."
Asked whether he thought he might lose him as a friend, Dec replied: "Yes. There was a point where I thought that that was it. There were times where I wasn't sure it was going to survive. Times where you didn't know it needed to survive or you wanted it to survive. All the while he was away I wasn't sure where his head was at or if he was going to say 'none of this is for me'." He added: "I didn't know what he wanted to do and for the first time in 30 years I had to think about what I was going to do and if I was going to go out on my own. The thought of that filled me with fear."
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE
"I had to think of everything other than work and concentrate on me and repairing relationships and being a better person and working out what was important and what wasn't and big life decisions," explained Ant. "Work was far down the line." Ant, 43, had been banned from driving for 20 months following his car crash in March 2018. As well as receiving the driving ban, Ant was also fined £86,000 - Britain's largest ever drink-driving fine. He admitted to being more than twice the drink-drive limit when he was involved in a car crash in Richmond, south-west London.
"Ultimately you realise all those feelings are a bit selfish because they are all about you and how about what he was going through and the unhappiness he felt and how he must have felt to be in that situation, and that is when I became really sad and really sympathetic," Dec said of their friendship. "Because to be in those depths of despair, he must have been so unhappy. And that is where ultimately the care and compassion you have for that person overrides everything and you just want them to get better and get support for them. More than anything I just wanted to be happy."
Ant then turned his life around in the year that has followed his arrest, and immediately suspended all of his television work alongside Dec in order to focus on his rehabilitation for alcohol addiction. He then found love with Anne-Marie Corbett after finalising his divorce from his estranged wife Lisa Armstrong. Now, Ant is preparing to fly to Australia to film I'm A Celebrity after Holly Willoughby stepped in for him last year. Speaking about his return, Ant revealed: "I can't wait, I love the show and I am chomping at the bit." Dec concluded: "For us it is a exciting time of year and we look forward to this from about May. I keep reading all the rumours about who is going in, it's very exciting."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.