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ANT OUT & DEC'S GUTTED; TV ROCKED AS STAR SAYS NO TO I'M A CELEBRITY; Tears as he tells pal to host Jungle show solo; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: TOM BRYANT Head of Showbiz

ANT McPartlin had an emotional meeting with partner Dec Donnelly in which he tearfully told him: "You can do the Jungle without me."

The pair saw each other in recent days to discuss Ant pulling out of hosting I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! for the first time since the show began in 2002.

A source said: "It was very emotional and there were a few tears as they talked it all through. Dec totally understands and supports Ant. He wants him better and fighting for next year."

The TV host, 42, announced yesterday he will be taking a break from presenting duties until 2019. Ant and partner Dec also made a "joint decision" not to present a new series of Saturday Night Takeaway next year.

ITV sources said a decision would be made in "due course" on whether Dec presents the Jungle show solo or Ant is replaced by another co-star.

FAVOURITE

Stephen Mulhern is one of the most likely TV presenters to fill in for Ant, according to bookies' odds.

Mulhern, who hosts Britain's Got More Talent and appears on Saturday Night Takeaway, is the favourite to fill Ant's space with odds of 2/1, according to bookmaker Coral.

Another possibility is Scarlett Moffatt, who hosts I'm A Celebrity's spin-off show, with odds of 3/1. Also in the frame are Cat Deeley, Caroline Flack and Keith Lemon. Ant and Dec's former SMTV Live co-star Deeley is at 5/1, Love Island presenter Flack is at 6/1, and Celebrity Juice star and comedian Lemon is at 8/1.

A source said: "Dec is gutted that his best mate can't be with him, but understands the show must go on and the Jungle is loved by so many people.

"It will be very strange indeed not being by his side - especially as so much of the show revolves around them and their banter.

"But all that matters is Ant's continued recovery and the move to stay out of the limelight until 2019 is fully respected by Dec."

Dec hosted the final episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway without Ant earlier this year.

But the source said, "they will instead bring the show back in 2020, bigger and better than ever". He added: "It was a hard decision as they know the audience loved it - so it was tough. But they know it's the right one."

Dec also hosted the live shows of Britain's Got Talent without his partner. The duo have fronted BGT together since 2007. ITV is hopeful that when the hit show returns in the spring, the duo will be back together again.

However it was keen not to put a definitive date on his return.

"The main priority is his recovery," the source said. "That precludes him working this year. As for 2019, we fully expect him to be back, but it's not as if we can put a date in the diary." Ant said in a state-year recovery is and for that having spoken to have made the the rest of the thank both Dec continued support getting back to ment: "My r going very well to continue, havi Dec and ITV, I ha decision to take th year off. I'd like to thaand ITV for their continand I look forward to gework in the new year."

obviously sad without my best year, I am proud doing privately his decision. us both being 2019."

Dec said: "Whilst I am at the thought of being withfriend in Australia this yearof the work Ant has been doand I am fully supportive of "I'm looking forward to ureunited on screen in 2019;

ITV director of teleLygo said: "ITV is supportive of Ant taktime as he needs in and of this mutua television Kevin completely taking as much his recovery mutual decision to rest Takeaway in 2019. Ant is clearly making good progress and we wish him all the very best, and look forward to him returning to ITV next year.

"An announcement on I'm A Celebrity plans will be made in due course."

The past few months have seen Ant step back from TV commitments and public appearances following a drinkdriving charge earlier this year.

He was banned for 20 months and fined [euro]95,000 after pleading guilty to driving while more than twice the limit and entering rehab for a second time.

The previous year, Ant told how his depression led to an addiction to prescription drugs and battles with substance and alcohol abuse.

The star said at the time how he had let "a lot of people down and for that I am truly sorry" before entering rehab. It was revealed Ant became hooked on the strong painkiller Tramadol after "botched" knee surgery two years ago left him in agony.

He also admitted to drinking heavily. Ant was seen at the weekend with his new girlfriend Anne-Marie Corbett, visiting the cinema on a date.

He confirmed he was splitting with wife Lisa, 41, in January, despite reports that Lisa was desperately trying to salvage the relationship.

There were claims she was "dragging her heels" in signing the divorce papers, but it has since been reported she is ready to move on.

Anne-Marie, 42, worked as Ant's PA before they found love in the wake of the marriage split.

tom.bryant@mirror.co.uk

VOICE OF THE MIRROR: PAGE 8

his to i"The main priority is his recovery. It means he can't work this year TV SOURCE ON ANT'S TIME-OUT DECISION

CAPTION(S):

CINEMA DATE Ant's new love Anne-Marie

OUT OF THERE Ant and Dec in the Jungle

STRAIN Duo on Takeaway in March

RESTING Ant McPartlin will continue recovery
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2018
Words:953
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