20/03/2018 12:36 GMT | Updated 20/03/2018 13:06 GMT

Holly Willoughby And Phillip Schofield 'Shocked And Saddened' By Friend Ant McPartlin's Arrest

'This is difficult for us, we’re talking about a friend here.'

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield have said they are both “shocked and saddened” by close friend Ant McPartlin’s arrest on suspicion of drink driving

The pair finally addressed the incident on Tuesday’s (20 March) edition of ‘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 Willoughby and Phillip Schofield

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.”

Holly then read out a statement from ITV, which confirmed Ant is stepping down from all of his TV commitments to return to rehab, with this weekend’s episode of ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ being pulled from the schedule.  

Phil then concluded by condemning drink-driving and sending Ant their best wishes. 

“The overwhelming feeling, we believe, has to be that no matter who you are, or what you do, if you get into a car having had a drink, the responsibility is entirely yours,” he said. “We wish Ant, and all those involved in these sad events, the very best.”

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The foursome are close pals

Piers Morgan, who worked with Ant on the first four series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, also addressed his arrest on ‘Good Morning Britain’, claiming the presenter is no longer “the guy he knows”. 

“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?’,” he said.  

“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.”

Ant has had a difficult year after spending two months in a rehabilitation facility for an addiction to prescription painkillers last summer, following a knee operation.

In January, he also announced his split from wife of 11 years, Lisa Armstrong. 

‘This Morning’ airs weekdays at 10.30am on ITV. 

Photo gallery Ant and Dec Through The Years See Gallery