ANT McPartlin and his wife of 11 years are to divorce, the ITV superstar has revealed.
The 23-year relationship with Strictly Come Dancing make-up boss Lisa Armstrong has been under severe strain since the I’m A Celebrity presenter entered rehab for drug addiction last summer.
In a statement released to The Sun on Sunday, Ant’s spokesman said: “In response to the recent speculation in the media, Ant is very sad to announce that, after 11 years, he is ending his marriage to Lisa McPartlin.
“Ant asks for privacy at this difficult time, for both himself, Lisa and their immediate families. No further statement will be made.”
Ant, who also hosts Saturday Night Takeaway and Britain’s Got Talent, is estimated to be worth £62 million.
Lisa is already believed to have already hired lawyers Harbottle and Lewis to represent her in the divorce.
We can reveal it was Ant’s decision to end the marriage following a series of emotional face to face meetings with Lisa.
A source close to Ant said: “This was a tough decision for Ant but he has to do the right thing for his health.
“It hasn't happened overnight. They’ve been having problems for ages.
“The marriage has effectively been struggling for eight months. He’s given it a good go.
“They’ve met up and spoken about it a number of times and this is the decision he has made.
"They are getting divorced. He is obviously really upset about it.”
However, sources close to the couple insist Ant wants what’s best for Lisa.
The source said: “Ant’s big concern in the whole thing is Lisa and making it as easy as possible for her.
“He will obviously look after her in the settlement. There is no doubt about that.
“He wants it to be amicable and friendly.
“Ant and Lisa have been together for over 20 years and married for 11. They’re best friends. She’s always stood by him and been supportive.
“The fact they’re divorcing is no reflection on her.”
Ant, 42, has overhauled his life since last June when we revealed he had checked into rehab after confessing to problems with substance abuse, prescription drugs and booze.
He exited rehab in August but never reunited with Lisa, 41, instead deciding to move into a £1.6 million rented house.
It was just a few streets away from their £6 million marital mansion in West London, so he could still be close to his beloved dog Hurley.
The decision is a deeply painful one for the couple, who have been a fixture on the entertainment scene for over two decades.
In an exclusive interview after leaving rehab, the Geordie – one half of TV’s most popular double act with best friend Declan Donnelly – admitted his issues with addiction and depression had put their marriage under strain.
When asked if their relationship could survive the trauma, he said: “All I can say at the moment is that she’s been amazing. This kind of stuff puts strains on any marriage.
“But we’re good. She’s been fantastic throughout rehab. Very supportive.
“And time will tell. It’s very personal isn’t it.”
However, Lisa made it clear she hoped to resolve the marriage issues when she shared a fan-made video on Twitter featuring her and Ant's best bits, ranging from their first meeting through to their 2006 wedding day.
In November she also went public to deny suggestions the couple were estranged, despite not being seen in public together since Ant got clean.
She wrote on Twitter: “I’m not estranged, thank you.”
And just month when a Twitter troll accused Lisa of “throwing your marriage away”, she hit back, writing: “Educate yourself first love and get your facts rights. You don’t know!”
'End is so sad'
THIS is a sad end to a marriage long considered one of the most normal in showbiz.
I have known them for many years, and Ant and Lisa are both lovely, caring individuals who only wanted the best for each other.
I sat down with Ant for his only solo interview last summer after he exited rehab. And it was clear that he was evaluating the future of his marriage for the sake of his health and well-being.
The next few months will be incredibly difficult as they adjust to life on their own. After all, they have shared the same friends and pursuits for much of the past two decades. But I have no doubt Ant will do his absolute utmost to protect Lisa, who is very successful in her own right as one of the country’s best make-up artists.
Ant has openly and bravely turned his life around from a very dark place.
It’s not an overstatement to say the whole country wants him to be happy and healthy again.
Ant and Lisa were teenage sweethearts who met on the Smash Hits tour in Newcastle in 1994 when he was 18 and she 17 in the band Deuce.
They dated for 11 years before Ant proposed while on holiday in Dubai in April 2005.
The following year they wed in a star-studded ceremony in Taplow, Bucks, with Dec as best man.
But their relationship has been tested in recent years as they appeared to struggle to start a family.
Ant admitted in his only interview post-rehab with The Sun on Sunday: “I would just say it’s a very private matter.
"We’ve struggled. Like a lot of couples do. But that’s all I’m going to say about it because it’s very personal.”
Last February – just four months before entering rehab – Ant opened up about his marriage in an interview with Fabulous magazine, where he said he still had a romantic side with his wife.
Couples ups and downers
1994: Ant and Lisa meet in Newcastle City Hall. He is performing with pal Dec as hip-hoppers PJ & Duncan, and she is in the band Deuce.
2005: Ant proposes to Lisa on holiday in Dubai.
2006: They get married in Taplow, Bucks, surrounded by 150 guests.
JUNE 2017: Ant checks into rehab after telling Lisa he needs help with substance abuse, prescription drugs and booze.
AUGUST 2017: Ant emerges from rehab and tells The Sun on Sunday he is clean of drugs but has put Lisa through “hell”.
NOVEMBER 2017: Ant jets to Australia to host ITV’s I’m A Celebrity. Lisa remains in the UK as head of make-up on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing. They use time apart to “re-evaluate their relationship”. Lisa takes to Twitter to deny reports her marriage is on the rocks.
DECEMBER 2017: Ant returns — but not to Lisa and their home in West London. He rents a property nearby and spends Christmas in Newcastle with his mum. Lisa is seen without her wedding ring.
JANUARY 2018: Lisa compares 2017 to a steaming pile of rubbish on Twitter. They agree to split after crisis talks. Lisa turns down chance to issue a joint statement after legal advice.
He said: “I think if you asked my wife she’d say I was.
"I whisked her off to Paris for her 40th last year. I said we had to be up at 7am, as we were going for lunch. What I didn’t tell her was we were flying to Paris.
“I spoke to Jamie Oliver and was like: ‘Can you sort us out a restaurant?’ He knew this perfect place. Then Dec and Ali came, too!
“We had a great time and flew back that night. Is that romantic enough for you?”
But in the same interview, Ant conceded there were times it was difficult to keep the excitement alive after a decade of marriage.
He said: “There are periods where you take each other for granted and you’ve got to be aware of that and stop yourself when it does happen.
“We’re very good at talking and are very open with each other.
Everyone says: ‘Make sure you talk to each other,’ but it’s the best bit of advice.”
Ant, a 16-time National Television Award winner for best presenter, also told how the couple are comfortable being independent, saying: “We love being together, but are good on our own.”