The stars of Loose Women have expressed sympathy for Declan Donnelly and how his own career may be affected following his TV partner Ant McPartlin’s arrest.
McPartlin has taken a step back from his TV commitments and is returning to rehab after being arrested on suspicion of drink-driving on Sunday, prompting the cancellation of his and Donnelly’s ITV programme Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend.
Loose Women, which airs on the same channel, addressed McPartlin’s recent troubles during Tuesday’s broadcast.
Panellist Ruth Langsford spoke of McPartlin and Donnelly’s “amazing partnership and incredible friendship”, and Coleen Nolan added: “Obviously we’re all talking about Ant, it’s a terrible situation, but as well, for me, I was thinking ‘oh, poor Dec.’
“It must be so hard for him as well, he’s out on a limb.”
Presenter Nadia Sawalha said: “I suppose there is this enormous pressure, they are these two squeaky clean stars, and they’ve got to keep up that image.
“It must be terribly taxing on Dec.”
McPartlin and Donnelly first met in 1989 when they played PJ and Duncan on children’s soap Byker Grove.
They formed a double-act and released music together before becoming TV presenters, working on programmes such as SMTV Live, Friends Like These and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, as well as Britain’s Got Talent later on and Saturday Night Takeaway.
McPartlin, 42, was involved in a collision with two other cars while he was driving his Mini in Richmond, west London, and was arrested at around 4pm on Sunday after failing a roadside breathalyser test.
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said he was “taken to a south London police station for questioning and has since been released under investigation” and that inquiries continue.
Police previously confirmed that a number of individuals were treated at the scene for minor injuries, and a child passenger from one of the cars was taken to hospital to be checked as a precaution.
On Monday, it was confirmed that McPartlin is stepping down from his TV commitments and will head back to rehab. He was first treated last year after struggling with an addiction to painkillers following a knee operation in 2015.
McPartlin’s publicist said in a statement: “Ant has decided to go back into treatment and step down from his current TV commitments.
“He has spoken with Dec and ITV today and asked for time off for the foreseeable future. As such, Saturday Night Takeaway will not be going ahead this Saturday.”
In a statement, Japanese carmaker Suzuki – which sponsors Saturday Night Takeaway – said: “ITV has taken a joint decision with Ant and Dec’s team not to broadcast Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend.
“We will be reviewing options for the last two episodes of the series (March 31 and April 7) which would not feature Ant, who is taking time off to seek treatment. We very much hope that he gets the help that he needs.
“Suzuki will remain in dialogue with ITV and advise media when appropriate regarding the last two episodes of the series. Please note that no further comment is available from Suzuki at this time.”
This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby said McPartlin must take responsibility for his actions, as they addressed his recent troubles in Tuesday’s episode of the daily programme.
Schofield said they were “shocked and saddened” by the news and that it was difficult for them to talk about because they were “talking about a friend”.
He added: “The overwhelming feeling we believe has to be that, no matter who you are, no matter what you do, if you get into a car having had a drink the responsibility is entirely yours.
“We wish Ant and all those involved in these sad events all the very best.”
The presenters were criticised by fans on Twitter on Monday for not speaking of McPartlin’s arrest, despite it being covered on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
This has marked the latest in a string of personal setbacks for the star, who first entered rehab last year due to his addiction to painkillers.
In January, McPartlin confirmed that he and his wife Lisa were separating after 11 years of marriage.
At the National Television Awards a few days after the split, McPartlin referred to his “tough year” while picking up the presenting prize with Donnelly.