The presenting duo were handed their 18th National Television Award for best TV Presenter on Tuesday night despite McPartlin taking the majority of last year off after his drink-driving arrest and stint at rehab.
The pair were unable to attend this year’s NTAs at London’s O2 as they were filming auditions from the upcoming series of Britain’s Got Talent, but their reactions were streamed in live from the set. Both teary eyed, McPartlin expressed his gratitude and dedicated the award to Donnelly.
“This is a genuine shock, especially this year. I’m shaking. We want to say thank you to everybody, I really don’t feel like I can accept it, the one reason we won this award was this guy, his wit his determination, I love you, pal,” an emotional McPartlin said.
“I’ve got him back now, now we’e back together. This year more than ever thanks for voting for us,” said a teary-eyed Donnelly.
He added a joking jab aimed at host Dermot O’Leary, who’d said he’d ‘throw in the towel’ if Ant & Dec won this year.
“But this year more than ever thank you to all of you who picked up the phone and voted to us. Special shout out to Dermot for saying he’d throw in the towel if we won, so happy retirement Dermot!” he said.
Many said Ant & Dec’s speech had moved them to tears.
If you didn’t cry at Ant & Dec then you’re heartless 😩💔😭 #NTAs
— S O P H I E 👱🏻♀️ (@_SophEckersley) January 22, 2019
— JK’l (@jmk210884) January 22, 2019
Although the awards are decided by a public vote, not everyone was as moved by the winners. Many expressed surprise the duo had won yet again, arguing they simply didn’t deserve to win this year, and that other nominees were far more deserving.
I've loved Ant & Dec since I was kid and they were on SM:TV. But I don't think they should have won this year, especially not as a duo. #NTAs
— Kerry Harrison (@kerrylou94) January 22, 2019
I so feel sorry for Graham Norton. Alway pipped to the post by Ant Dec. #NTAs I love the GN Show!
— Lee 🎸 (@Cockney_Rocker) January 22, 2019
Rigged in favour of Ant & Dec. Shouldn't have been allowed to qualify, Ant hasn't even been on TV last year he was in rehab #NTAs
— Curt (@CurtisSupreme) January 22, 2019
Ant & Dec also thanked their fans across their social media accounts. On Twitter and Instagram they shared the below picture with the caption: ‘A huge congratulations to Ant and Dec who have just won Best Presenter at the NTA’s 18 years in a row.’
Britain’s Got Talent will air this spring on ITV.