Ant McPartlin sweetly steps aside to honour Holly Willoughby at the TV Baftas

Katie Archer
(Press Association)

It had the potential to be a super awkward moment when Ant McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and Holly Willoughby were all invited up on stage at the TV Baftas to accept an award for I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!.

This Morning host Willoughby had been a stand-in for McPartlin in the 2018 series of the ITV reality show while he took time off to go into rehab after a drink driving conviction.

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But McPartlin’s sweet gesture to acknowledge pal Willoughby’s efforts in keeping his seat warm in the Australian jungle instantly defused any tension as he stepped aside to let her and Donnelly accept the trophy for Reality and Constructed Factual at the TV Bafta ceremony.

All three TV stars made their way up to the stage with the show’s cast and crew when they were announced as winners, but McPartlin ushered Willoughby forward to the microphone while he went to stand at the back with the crew, applauding his friends.

Willoughby was clearly touched by the moment as Donnelly said: “I’d like to thank Holly for helping me out last year, she did a fantastic job standing in for Ant who reluctantly came up here tonight.

“There he is, he’s still part of the team so I wanted him up here to celebrate with us.”

Read more: Stars hit the red carpet for the TV Baftas

McPartlin and Donnelly had presented all 17 of the series which sees celebrities challenged to live in a jungle camp and take on stomach-churning trials, until 2018 when McPartlin took a break from all TV work.

The 18th series was presented by Donnelly and Willoughby, although it’s expected to return to the original hosting line-up for the 2019 series.

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It was a successful night for the Geordie duo, who also won a TV Bafta in the Entertainment Programme category for Britain’s Got Talent, with the short list including another of their shows, Saturday Night Takeaway.

However, they lost out in the Entertainment Performance category with Saturday Night Takeaway to comedian Lee Mack for panel show Would I Lie to You?.