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The special meanings behind Dec Donnelly's rarely-seen children's names

The BGT host shares Isla, five, and Jack, one, with his wife Ali Astall  

Declan Donnelly and Ali Astall
Katie Daly
Lifestyle Writer
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Britain's Got Talent fans look forward to the show's return as the four glamorous judges - Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon, Simon Cowell, and Bruno Tonioli, and two iconic presenters, Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly, took to the red carpet earlier this week for the London photocall.

But when not stepping onto the red carpet or the stage for the show's first auditions of the year, host Declan Donnelly, 48, spends quiet time at home with his wife Ali, 45, and their two children Isla, five, and Jack, one, whom they keep out of the limelight.

Ant and Dec and judges on red carpet for Britain's Got Talent auditions at the London Palladium this week© Getty
Ant and Dec arrived for Britain's Got Talent auditions at the London Palladium this week

What fans might now know is that little Isla's name has a special meaning, and it's one close to BGT presenter Dec's heart. When she was born in 2018, Ali and Dec named their daughter Isla Elizabeth Anne after Dec's mother Anne. 

Ant and Dec with their mums© X
Ant and Dec with their mums

Dec shares a close bond with his mum Anne and she has even spoken about the emotions the family went through when Dec's best friend and co-host Ant McPartlin battled with addiction.

Ant and Dec holding awards at ceremony in 2020© Getty
Ant is like a son to Dec's mum Anne

It has been reported that Anne sees Ant, who befriended her son in 1989, "like a son" and has said: "When I found out about what he had been going through I was quite upset that he had been in that much pain."

Anne first learned of Ant's struggle at the same time as the public, saying he said: "We didn't know how he was doing until we read about it." She added that "he has done so well, and we are all so proud of him."

Ali Astall and Declan Donnelly attend Elizabeth Day's launch of new book Friendaholic – Confessions of a Friendship Addict at Langan's© Getty
Dec and Ali share a son and a daughter

In 2022, Dec's wife gave birth to a second child – Jack Anthony Alphonsus. The I'm a Celeb presenter took to social media to announce the arrival saying: "Shortly before 10am yesterday, 23.7.2022, Ali and I welcomed the arrival of our son, Jack Anthony Alphonsus, a very welcome ray of light. He is wonderful and Isla is beyond excited to be a big sister!".

Ant and Dec split image© Shutterstock/ITV
Ant and Dec have been friends for three decades

Little Jack's name also has a special meaning to the couple. His middle name 'Anthony' is a tribute to his friend of 35 years whom he met at just 13 years old on the set of children's TV show Byker Grove. Ant has previously spoken of their enduring friendship saying: "We've grown like any friends do who have known each other that long. We know everything about each other. We know what makes the other laugh, what annoys the other one and, yeah, we love each other."

Dec and Ali on their wedding day© Alamy
Dec and Ali's children have special names

Jack's second middle name is a tribute to Dec's father Alphonsus Donnelly, who passed away in 2011. In the book he wrote with his co-host Once Upon a Tyne, Dec opened up about the birth of his daughter, revealing: "Becoming a dad has completely transformed me. At first, like all expectant parents, I didn't truly understand how much it was going to change me.

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly at Ant's wedding in 2021© Getty
Dec's son's name pays tribute to Ant

"I just thought it was another little person coming to live in the house... It opened up a whole other side to me, a side I didn't know existed. I felt a love that I didn't realise it was possible to feel. Everything I do, every day, is for my daughter now."

DISCOVER:  Ant McPartlin's pristine living room at £6m London home is perfect for double dates with Declan Donnelly

Ant is a stepfather to the two daughters of his wife Anne-Marie Corbett whom he wed in 2021. "I’ve got two step-daughters, 13 and 15, and they are more socially aware at that age than I was in my mid-20s. Than I still am," he admitted, adding: "It’s not going to be our generation that saves the world. Look at Greta Thunberg, single-handedly almost making the world aware of climate change."

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