Dermot O’Leary has hinted that his good friend Ant McPartlin could fall off the wagon again once he returns to television next week.
The X Factor host, who counts both Ant and Declan Donnelly as close friends, revealed that the troubled telly presenter needs to be in a ‘good place’ to avoid making the same mistakes that led to him taking almost an entire year off work in 2018.
Ant is due to begin filming for Britain’s Got Talent in the next few days, which will be his first job since taking a break from TV in the wake of his shameful drink-driving car crash last March.
As a result of his accident, Ant went back into rehab for a second stint to beat his drink and drug demons, leaving Dec to continue working as a solo performer.
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Dermot with close friends Ant and Dec
Ant sat out last month’s I’m A Celebrity series to focus on his sobriety, with Holly Willoughby stepping in as co-host next to Dec.
And Dermot said his absence from the screen has done Ant the world of good.
"Ant’s a dear friend. I think he’s scheduled to come back to TV this year," he told the Sunday Mirror.
"As long as he’s happy. He just needs to be in a good place.
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Ant hasn’t been seen on screen since last April
"Ant and Dec are such a staple that when I was doing a trail for I’m A Celeb I said their names instead of Holly."
Dermot will be hosting January 22’s National Television Awards, where Ant and Dec are up once again for the Best Entertainer gong, against Holly, Phillip Schofield, Graham Norton and Bradley Walsh.
BGT is up for the Talent Show award, while both Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! are in the running for the Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award – meaning Ant and Dec have been nominated for FOUR NTAs in total.
That has prompted backlash from some quarters, including from Piers Morgan, who said Ant had been sitting "on his backside all year" so didn’t deserve to be nominated.
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Piers was furious that Ant has been nominated for several NTAs
"No work, walk the dog, get up, and he still gets nominated for the NTA! I mean I love Ant but really?" he ranted on Good Morning Britain.
"Really? You’re going to give the award to someone who’s not done any work this year! I come in every day. I mean Dec should be getting one this year – solo."
Piers went on: "I was joking about Ant and Dec being nomination for the NTAs when one of them hasn’t done any work this year.
"It has happened. They’ll win, even though Ant has basically been sat on his backside, walking his dog for the last year."
National Television Awards 2019
When are the NTAs on TV?
NTAs nominations in full
NTAs nominations shortlist
NTA 2018 winners