Declan Donnelly says “it’s brilliant to be back together” with best pal Ant McPartlin as they prepare to keep the nation in stitches on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here !
Speaking for the first time since his friend’s problems were revealed, Dec said: “We’re really excited. We’ll have the same old shenanigans on I’m a Celebrity but with a few little added twists.
“We just can’t wait to get in and get going now. We’ve been waiting for ages. It’s been a long summer break so we can’t wait.”
Asked about being apart from Ant during the stint in rehab, Dec said: “I’m looking forward to spending more time with him, yeah.
“It’s brilliant to be back together – it’s perfect. Everything slots back into place. We can’t wait and we are raring to go.”
The pair have jetted to Australia and drove to a rented penthouse apartment close to the I’m a Celebrity camp in Murwillumbah, New South Wales.
They have been joined by Dec’s wife Ali Astall, who is also the pair’s manager.
The trio – Ant in bright yellow shorts – have been seen relaxing by the pool ahead of the new series of the ITV reality show.
Ant, 41, said of his return to TV after a testing few months: “I’m excited to be back – I can’t wait. I’m feeling great.
“The flight was all right… and me and Dec had a good catch-up. It’s going to be a good show.” Normally the pair would play golf several times a week while Down Under, but Dec said it would have to wait for now as they try to ensure the programme’s opening few episodes are as slick as usual.
Dec, 42, said: “We won’t play any golf this week. Let’s get into the show first but we will get some out here, don’t worry about that.” Ant’s wife Lisa, 41, is busy in London where she is head make-up artist on BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.
Yesterday she poured scorn on stories suggesting she and Ant are living separate lives, tweeting: “Haven’t been to Oz for 10 years. I have a job. I’m not estranged thank you. As you were.”
After Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway show ends each spring, they normally spend the summer together, relaxing on holiday and playing golf. But this year they have been kept apart by Ant’s knee surgery and the rehab sessions which have also meant him living away from the home he shares with Lisa.
ITV bosses hope the concerns about Ant’s health will soon be forgotten after medics gave him the all-clear to return to co-host I’m a Celebrity alongside Dec.
They will kick off with a 105-minute show this Sunday.
The show is starting a week later than last year, which ITV has insisted is nothing to do with Ant’s health battle. But it means he will be working most of next weekend when he turns 42 – so it seems his usual boozy birthday party at an Aussie bar will be axed.
A source close to Ant and Dec told the Mirror: “They’ve been in the business for more than 25 years and they know there will be a lot of scrutiny on the first few shows this year because of what Ant has been through.
“But they have always been total pros and are just keen to get going. It is a series which really shows off their brilliant jokes and their friendship.
“Dec has been a rock for Ant since he went public with his problems and he will be there for his friend if there are any last-minute nerves.
“They will work harder than ever to make this series a great one.”
Flanked by heavy security, Ant and Dec picked up groceries yesterday and began setting themselves up for their month-long stay in Oz after landing at Brisbane airport on Saturday.
Ant revealed his problems in August, saying at the time he had been driven to drugs because of a painful knee injury.
He said: “I was at the point where anything – prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs – I would take.
“And take them with alcohol, which is ridiculous. The doctors told me, ‘You could have killed yourself.’ ” He added he knew the game was up as he pleaded with his wife to get him to hospital after he had binged on
tramadol, morphine and alcohol while recovering from a second knee operation in June.
He recalled: “It was five in the morning and I was screaming in pain so I rang Lisa.
“She was upstairs because I was living in the living room because I couldn’t get around.”
I’m A Celebrity 2017
Asked if his doctor warned him of the risks, Ant admitted: “Yeah. And the warnings are on the packet.
“I didn’t take them as seriously as I should have.
“And I drank with them, which was stupid and very reckless. I didn’t think how dangerous they are.”
He added: “You just think you know best – I’m in more pain, I’ll just whack another one down. That’s the danger – self-medicating.”
- I’m a Celebrity… begins on Sunday on ITV at 9pm.
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