Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway scores most watched episode of the series with 8.6 MILLION viewers as Declan Donnelly wows in his solo debut without Ant McPartlin

Mail Online | 4/1/2018 | Connie Rusk;Rebecca Lawrence For Mailonline
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He received a standing ovation from fans after he hosted Saturday Night Takeaway for the first time without his embattled side-kick Ant McPartlin.

And Declan Donnelly's solo attempt at presenting the hit ITV show amassed a staggering 8.6 million viewers - 700,000 more than the previous episode, where he appeared on screen with his co-host Ant, according to The Sun, making it the most watched episode of this series.

Night - Nerves - 'hero - Viewers - Work

The 42-year-old, who tweeted he had barely slept the night before from nerves, was hailed a 'hero' by viewers as he joked he would have to do 'twice the work' following Ant's admission to rehab after his drink-drive charge.

ITV bosses will no doubt be delighted with the ratings, after they were forced to pull the show last week.

Dec - Show - Box - Mishap - News

Dec, who oversaw an almost seamless live 90-minute show with dropping a box of popcorn being his only mishap, said the news had been 'unavoidable' in recent weeks but did not explicitly mention why Ant, also 42, was missing.

Following the programme, he tweeted: 'Thanks for all your lovely messages tonight, they are VERY much appreciated, 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. D x'

Ant - Wife - Lisa - Armstrong - Support

Ant's estranged wife Lisa Armstrong also threw her support behind Dec, liking a number of encouraging tweets.

'Has the country ever wanted one person to do so well as much as tonight?' the first tweet read, while another wrote 'Well done Dec. You were brilliant as usual!'

Lisa - Kate - Thornton - Tweet - Masterclass

Lisa also liked Kate Thornton's tweet: 'A total masterclass in professionalism tonight from Dec - doing both of you proud @ antanddec. Felt so emotional watching you fly solo.'

Dec did not directly address his co-host's absence, while guest announcer Stephen Merchant quipped he was available to join Dec on the stage...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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