Saturday Night Takeaway draws in record crowds in Ant McPartlin's absence

The Easter weekend edition of Saturday Night Takeaway attracted record viewing numbers in the aftermath of Ant McPartlin’s drink driving arrest and charge.

In March, McPartlin, 42, was splashed across the headlines when he crashed his Mini and was arrested when found to be over the limit, after failing a roadside breathalyser.

With speculation over whether SNT would even see out its current series, after having the 24 March show cancelled in the wake of the scandal, it emerged that Declan Donnelly, also 42, would take charge of it all by himself.

Dec takes charge of the show for the first time ever, after Ant’s drink driving arrest, (REX)
Dec takes charge of the show for the first time ever, after Ant’s drink driving arrest, (REX)

And the results were hugely successful, after Tellymix revealed the episode received 8.6 million viewers. It made it the second-highest rated episode of the current series and had the best viewership for the entire Saturday night’s TV listings.

The only other SNT episode that has beaten it, by around 100,000, was the show’s 100th show celebration which is to be expected.

While the solo presenter didn’t explicitly reference his absent presenting partner Ant, Dec did, however, quip about the fact he had ‘twice as much work’ to do hosting the Saturday evening show on his own for the first time ever.

And he did thank the audience and fans out there for all the ‘lovely messages’ he’d received.

‘I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I didn’t sleep an awful lot last night so I’m off to bed! Night y’all,’ the rest of the heartfelt message read.

Dec joined on stage by Stephen Mulhern at the weekend, (REX)
Dec joined on stage by Stephen Mulhern at the weekend, (REX)

He also issued a poignant message as the show closed, by saying a few words to his audience and everyone watching at home, after a turbulent few weeks.

‘First of all, thanks to you at home for watching – thank you so much,’ he said, before wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

After being joined on stage by Stephen Mulhern, 40, who has worked with the star on Britain’s Got Talent and the current presenter of the rebooted Catchphrase, he was also joined on the show by a host of other celebs such as Scarlett Moffatt, 27, and Stephen Merchant, 43.


It was reported last week that ITV’s share value dropped by £1.2 billion since Ant’s current headlines and after his first stint in rehab last year. But it appears people are still backing the show, despite advertisers like Suzuki backing out of their multi-million pound deal with it.

Catch the series finale of Saturday Night Takeaway (live from Florida) this Saturday, at 7pm, on ITV1.

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