Ant McPartlin ‘thrilled’ as he makes emotional return to Britain’s Got Talent
The presenter took nearly a year off following a drink-driving charge.
Ant McPartlin told fans he was “emotional” but “thrilled” as he made his return to Britain’s Got Talent after nearly a year away from work.
The presenter reunited with his long-time presenting partner Declan Donnelly on the first day of auditions for the ITV programme at the London Palladium.
McPartlin, 43, stepped away from his TV roles last March after a drink-driving charge.
He took part in the pre-recorded part of last year’s series Britain’s Got Talent, but Donnelly hosted the live shows alone.
Donnelly introduced the show on Friday, telling the audience: “We’ve got the judges back, the golden buzzer is back, and someone else is back. My co-host for the series, would you please welcome… Mr Ant McPartlin.”
Taking to the stage, McPartlin said: “Hello everyone. Oh God, I’m really, really emotional now. I’ve missed you all.”
Turning to Donnelly, he said: “As for you, I’ve missed you. Thank you very much, what a warm welcome.
Ant and Dec reunited pic.twitter.com/FVLbq8EKmN— All Ant and Dec (@allantanddec) January 18, 2019
“What a great show to come back to, I’m thrilled, I’m over the moon. Shall we move on before I cry?”
The pair then hugged on stage as the audience cheered.
Britain’s Got Talent head judge Simon Cowell told McPartlin: “Ant welcome back. We missed you; it wasn’t the same.
“I mean even though Dec was brilliant, it still wasn’t the same. It would be like me not being with David (Walliams), I would be happy, but not happy – if that makes sense. So on behalf of all of us, welcome back, we’re family.”
Earlier in the day, McPartlin and Donnelly had arrived together at the back entrance of the London venue in a black SUV, both waving and smiling at fans as they got out of the car.
The TV duo had previously shared a selfie on social media from inside the car on their way to the theatre, along with the caption: “#BGT 2019. Audition day 1. The boys are back in town!”
Britain’s Got Talent judge Walliams was among those celebrating McPartlin’s return to the small screen, sharing a picture of himself with Ant and Dec on Instagram.
He wrote: “Back together. @antanddecofficial.”
McPartlin stepped down from all of his TV commitments after being charged with drink-driving in March last year, before he was later banned from the road for 20 months and fined £86,000.
He was driving while more than twice the legal drink-drive limit.
McPartlin missed I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in November, with Donnelly hosting the programme alongside This Morning’s Holly Willoughby.
McPartlin, who divorced wife Lisa last year, previously struggled with a two-year addiction to super-strength painkillers following a knee operation.
Britain’s Got Talent returns with Cowell and Walliams as judges alongside Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden.