I’m A Celebrity host Dec Donnelly got best pal Ant McPartlin’s approval for a risky joke at the start of the launch show .
The 43-year-old presenter is taking time out this year to focus on his recovery from drink and prescription drug addiction after he was involved in a car crash In March and pleaded guilty to drink-driving.
Even though he is not directly involved with the show, Ant helped to vet a gag about his absence just moments before the show started.
Holly and Dec had rehearsed a couple of different opening lines but decided on a particularly hilarious joke after going to Ant.
Viewers waited in anticipation to see whether the new presenting duo would address the elephant in the room and they did not disappoint.
Holly has replaced Ant for this year’s series
Ant was missing from our screens
- I’m A Celebrity 2018: Holly and Dec make savage joke about Ant McPartlin’s absence
Insiders told The Sun that the pair were wanted to bring in the laughs without causing any offense to their mate Ant.
While they did poke fun at his expense, the presenters did not actually mention Ant by name.
Walking into the studio, Dec said: "The more eagle-eyed viewers among you will have already noticed a big change to the show.
"Yes one of the most gorgeous presenters on British television has been joined by Holly Willoughby."
Dec walked in with his new co-host Holly
Dec introduced his new co-host
Giggling Holly, who shook off any nerves immediately, had a little giggle.
She said: "This is so weird. Normally about this time I’m at home pouring myself a glass of wine.
Cheeky Dec replied: "Tonight she’s already drunk it and we’re ready for action."
Holly is loving life in Oz
This isn’t the first time that Ant’s antics have been joked about on the show.
Ironically the Geordie duo actually made fun of rumours that Holly would replace Ant last year after his first stint in rehab.
Referencing the rumours about Holly replacing Ant, Dec joked: "It’s me and the gorgeous Holly Willoughby!"
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Ant replied: "What? Sorry? What?"
Naughty Dec added: “Guys that is the wrong script you have put the wrong script on the screen.
“Nobody was sure if you would make it or not. We didn’t know if you would be here.”
Ant then said: “Unbelievable. I was always gonna make it. Come on, I’m back my friend.”
The pair then hugged and Ant said: “It is good to be back, you’re still a nice cuddler ain’t you?”
I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! starts on Sunday 18 November at 9pm on ITV
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