The presenter tackled the elephant in the room head-on with a quip about having to host solo, following Ant’s conviction for drink-driving earlier this year.
Having arrived on stage from the ceiling during an impressive opening number choreographed by dance troupe Diversity, Dec referenced Ant while talking about the show’s move to the Hammersmith Apollo.
“We may have a new home, but rest assured nothing else has changed,” he said.
“The talent is as good as ever, the judges are exactly the same, and the presenters... well, probably best not to dwell on that. Let’s just get on with the show, shall we?”
However, that was a case of famous last words though, as just moments later, the show fell off air for over 10 minutes due to storms in west London.
As it finally returned, Simon Cowell joked that Ant may have been responsible.
“Ant, you are coming back next year, you didn’t have to do that!” he laughed.
Dec has been forced to present the rest of this year’s ‘BGT’ alone following Ant’s decision to step down from all TV commitments after his arrest in March.
Taking to Instagram before the show, Dec revealed he had brought along his pet dog to keep him company in Ant’s absence.
While it is the first time Dec has hosted ‘BGT’ by himself, earlier this year he hosted two episodes of ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ alone, following Ant’s arrest.
While Ant returned to rehab following his arrest, it is believed he has since completed treatment, as he and Dec were pictured in the gardens of a hotel together earlier this month.