Saturday Night Takeaway fans left in tears as they praise 'brave' Declan Donnelly for going it alone without Ant McPartlin

Viewers tuned in to see Dec present on TV for the first time without his sidekick Ant who was charged with drink-driving earlier this month.

Despite not directly mentioning his best friend's absence, Dec joked: “I’ve got twice the amount of work to do.”

Commenting on his nerves as he began to present solo, fans said: "Actually breaks my heart watching Dec trying to act like he’s comfortable without Ant.

"I couldn’t imagine how he feels right now. He looks so lost he’s literally lost his right arm #SaturdayNightTakeaway #SNT"

Someone else said: "Dec was and will always be my favourite. Feel like he needs a massive hug, but so proud of him #SaturdayNightTakeaway @antanddec."

Another said: "I love Dec so much, he is so brave to be doing the show on his. Want to give him a big hug, hope to see Ant soon, miss you."

Another fan added: "Oh, Dec I saw your little heart breaking when you opened your first ever show by yourself. We all support you!!! #SaturdayNightTakeaway #antanddec #AntAndDecSaturdayNightTakeaway".

Someone else added: "Loving Saturday Night Takeaway! I'm so proud of Dec @antanddec absolutely owning it in a difficult situation, keep up the good work! @itvtakeaway".

And another said:  "Love Ant and Dec so much and right now it’s making me emotional seeing Dec on his own. So much respect to him for pulling through so well❤ #SaturdayNightTakeaway".

Tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Takeaway was the first time Dec has appeared on TV without his co-star Ant since they first made their television debut in Byker Grove in 1989.

At the end of the show, an emotional Dec thanked fans for their support and received a standing ovation.

Dec was swarmed with support by his fans on Friday as he announced he was back to work by tweeting: “Back in studio today preparing your #SaturdayNightTakeaway for tomorrow night. Have a great Good Friday! D x.”

Starting their careers as actors, the duo had a brief musical career before landing their ideal job of hosting children’s TV show, SMTV: Live.

Over the past few years, the pair have become the faces of British TVs most loved shows –including I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and Britain’s Got Talent, as well as Saturday Night Takeaway.

Ant – who entered rehab last year following a prescription medication and alcohol addiction – has returned to a facility after relapsing.

He was charged with drink-driving following a collision on March 18, and is expected to appear in court on April 4.

Last week’s episode of Takeaway was pulled from the air as a result, and fans took the opportunity to share their favourite clips from the show in its absence as ITV1 aired The Voice in its place.

However, Dec and the production team decided to complete the show’s run and air the remaining two episodes.

In a statement released on the pair’s split official Twitter account, Dec wrote: "Whilst I never thought I'd be in this position, after much discussion and careful consideration we've decided that the remaining two shows of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead.

"We made a promise to take hundreds of deserving winners to Florida to watch the series finale, and we will honour that.

"Everyone at ITV and the Takeaway team feels we owe it to the audience to complete the series. Dec x."

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