The presenter paid tribute to his co-host and told Dec he was “the one reason” they were receiving the gong, after Ant took time out of the spotlight following his arrest and conviction for drink-driving last year.
The presenting duo were not in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony to collect the award due to filming commitments on the upcoming series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.
However, they appeared via satellite link-up to give their acceptance speech, which also marked Ant’s first TV appearance in 10 months.
Ant described winning the gong as a “genuine shock”, before paying tribute to Dec for flying the flag in his absence.
“This is a genuine shock, especially this year,” he said. “We want to say thank you to everybody. I really don’t think that I can accept this award this year.
“The one reason we won the award this year is this guy: his hard work, his wit, his dedication. Best mate in the world.
“I love this guy.”
Dec added: “Thank you so much and to everybody who sent kind and thoughtful messages to us over the past year. They have kept me going while I have been flying the flag for the tour bus, but I have got him back now and we are back together.
“Thank you for your support.”
Ant and Dec had faced competition in a Best Presenter category from Bradley Walsh, Graham Norton, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, who stood in for Ant on the most recent series of ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!’ alongside Dec.
Ant stood down from all his TV commitments in March, mid-way through the last series of the duo’s ’Saturday Night Takeaway’.
Dec went on to present the remaining two episodes solo, also helming the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ live shows without his usual co-host.
Ant did, however, still appear in pre-recorded auditions for the series, which were filmed prior to his arrest in March.
The star received an £86,000 fine and a 20-month driving ban after he pleaded guilty to crashing his car in Richmond, south west London, while twice over the legal limit.
While he had not appeared with Dec on TV since May, Ant still said they deserved to win Best Presenter for his co-host’s solo efforts.
He told The Sun last week: “If we do win – and I hope people still vote – then Dec deserves it. He’s worked his socks off this year.
“It’s an accolade to how hard he’s worked in tough circumstances. How good a friend he’s been to me. How much of a professional he is. If we do win, then Dec will have to take most of it and I’ll take a tiny bit for my few shows last year.”
After he returned to work on the upcoming series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ last week, Ant admitted that Dec was initially angry with him after he was arrested.
Recalling their first conversation the day after the incident, Ant told The Sun: “We didn’t even speak work. It wasn’t about that. It was about, ‘How are you?’ I said: ‘I’m not right.’ You know, mentally I wasn’t in a good place.
“We’re friends first and foremost. And we’re friends from the age of 13. But of course there’s going to be tensions there.
“Because this is not just getting pissed and making a fool of yourself at the office Christmas party — this is drink driving. He’s angry, of course he’s angry. But it’s justified and I understood it.”
Ant added: “Underneath all of that is love and still is love. And that’s what we talked about more than anything.”