Ever since his arrest on suspicion of drink driving on Sunday afternoon, speculation has been rife about Ant McPartlin’s future. As the ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ host returns to treatment, we’ve been looking at the headlines in a bid to separate fact from fiction, and ask, what does the future hold for the Ant and Dec star?
Has Ant been charged with drink driving?
Yes. After crashing his Mini into two other cars in Richmond, south west London on Sunday 18 March, Ant was arrested on suspicion of drink driving after failing a breathalyser test at the scene. After spending 10 hours in police custody, the 42-year-old was not bailed but was released under investigation.
On Wednesday (21 March), police confirmed that he would be facing charges, and he’s set to appear in Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 4 April.
Is Ant going back to rehab?
Yes. His publicist confirmed Ant was returning to treatment on Monday (19 March) following his arrest for drink driving on Sunday. In a statement, his spokesman said: “Ant has decided to go back into treatment and step down from his current TV commitments. He has spoken with Dec and ITV today and asked for time off for the foreseeable future.”
Has ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ been axed?
No. Whilst ITV confirmed this Saturday’s (24 March) show has been cancelled, the remaining two shows from the current run will still go ahead, but without Ant. ITV has confirmed Declan Donnelly will host the show by himself when the show returns on Saturday March 31.
In a statement, Dec said: “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. 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.”
In an earlier statement ITV said: “We very much hope that [Ant] gets the help that he needs.”
Will he be appearing on the new series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’?
Some reports are stating that Ant won’t feature on this year’s ‘BGT’, but this isn’t true as the audition and selection rounds had already been filmed prior to his arrest. These will start airing on Saturday April 14. However, it is still unclear how much of the final edit he will feature in, in light of recent events.
It is also still unknown if he will be part of the live shows, which are likely to start from 28 May. Ant’s last stint in rehab lasted two months, so he may return, but this is yet to be determined.
What about ‘I’m A Celebrity’?
Ant still has 18 months left of his three-year £30m ‘golden handcuffs’ deal with ITV, which includes the next series of ‘I’m A Celebrity’, but it really will depend on what he decides to do following his latest stint in rehab.
Public Relations expert Dan Hughes is confident he’ll be back on our screens before long, telling HuffPost: “He’s got a great team around him and with their support he can come back better than ever - back on our TV screens where he belongs.”
Will Dec continue without him?
This is a tricky one. Not only are they a double act, but Ant and Dec are also the best of friends. Dec’s already confirmed that he’ll be fronting ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ alone, but the duo have other work commitments outside of the show.
However, PR guru Dan Hughes believes Dec will continue whilst Ant focuses on his health. He tells us: ”Dec is massively popular in his own right and the show must go on but I suspect that’s not going to be an easy decision.”
Piers Morgan agrees, despite Ant and Dec agreeing they wouldn’t ever go solo.
Piers said: “What does he do? You’ve got the rest of Saturday Night Takeaway, you’ve got Britain’s Got Talent coming up, I’m A Celebrity – does Dec Donnelly now have to come off TV as well? I think Dec is going though a real crisis himself now about what to do career-wise. I honestly do think the show must go on. And even though they always agreed they wouldn’t do it without each other, that’s under normal circumstances.”
He continued: ″[Dec] is devastated for his mate but also he’s worried about the Ant and Dec brand – it’s the biggest brand in the country on television and it’s being damaged. He’s got to make a decision.
“I think the time has come, given it’s the second time round on this, for Dec to be not selfish but look after himself too. He’s very successful in his own right.
“They’ve got big teams working with them on these shows and their lives are affected as well. So that would be the right thing to do. I think Dec should carry on with somebody else if necessary.”
What about Ant and Dec’s advertising and sponsorship deal with Suzuki?
Suzuki has confirmed they are ending their £20m advertising campaign with Ant and Dec. The car company issued a statement on Friday 23 March announcing that no further material featuring the pair will be aired following Ant’s arrest and subsequent charge for drink driving.
In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Suzuki are withdrawing their advertising campaign with Ant & Dec. No further material featuring the duo will be aired and Suzuki’s endorsement deal with the pair has come to an end. We agree with ITV and Ant & Dec that it was the correct decision not to broadcast Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend. As a car brand we recognise the seriousness of Ant’s charge.
We completely support Ant’s decision to seek treatment. Suzuki will however continue to sponsor the last two episodes of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway with our current idents. Suzuki very much supports Dec and ITV’s decision to broadcast the shows and as headline sponsors we also want to support the competition winners who have won places on the Plane to Florida for the series finale.”
What have Ant’s showbiz pals said about his arrest?
Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield have said they are both “shocked and saddened” by Ant’s arrest. The pair addressed the incident on ‘This Morning’, having received criticism from viewers for failing to bring up Ant’s recent troubles on the previous day’s show.
“This is difficult for us, we’re talking about a friend here,” Phil explained at the top of the show. “Like many people, we’re shocked and saddened by Sunday’s incident involving Ant.”
Holly continued: “We can’t say much more as the matter is still being investigated by the police, but we want to wish those shaken and upset by the collision a quick recovery, and personally for Ant, we hope he gets some time and space to return to full health.”
Phil went on: “Ant’s now gone back into treatment. He’s clearly struggling. He loves Dec, he loves his career, he loves the shows they make together and he loves their fans.”
Meanwhile, Piers Morgan has claimed Ant is “not the guy he knows”. The ‘Good Morning Britain’ presenter, who worked alongside Ant on the first four series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, described the star as “tormented”, as he revealed he would like to see him off TV “for a long time” while he recovers.
“He’s definitely changed, no question,” Piers said. “I’ve known Ant a long time and I like him very much, but I wonder if he’s getting a little bit too much of arm round, ‘are you OK, mate?’ and not enough, ‘mate, what are you doing?’ If I had the chance to speak to him, which I won’t now, I would say that to him. As a friend, you are throwing away your career here. You can’t afford too many more days with headlines like this. I’d like to see him off TV for a long time as he came back too soon [after rehab].”
How will Ant’s arrest affect his career?
Dan Hughes is adamant that Ant can overcome his problems and come back stronger than ever. He tells us: “Ant is one of the nation’s favourite personalities and is loved by millions. He’s only human and has made a mistake. Should it impact on his career? No. However, he needs to hold his hands up, admit the error, take time out and seek advice from professionals. If he does this, the public will be understanding. I think people sympathise with him because he’s been through a well publicised difficult time.”
Whatever his future career holds, we wish Ant a full and speedy recovery.