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Fans of Saturday Night Takeaway have experienced a rare sight this evening, as Dec stepped up to the hosting plate alone - appearing without his best mate Ant for the first time in 20 years.
Tonight's show is the first to air since Ant checked into rehab, following his arrest for drink driving last Wednesday. Last week's show was cancelled.
Guest announcer Stephen Merchant introduced the show as Paloma Faith sang us in with a lively rendition of 'Til I'm Done'. Dec then descended the staircase alone, giving members of the audience high fives, before thanking everyone for a warm welcome.
"I've got twice the amount of work to do, so we're going to crack on," Dec said, before moving on quickly to explain what tonight's show has in store.
Stephen Merchant also congratulated Dec on the announcement that he and his wife Ali are expecting their first child.
A show insider told The Sun that SNT bosses have been 'torn' in regards to how to address Ant's absence.
They said: "Explaining Ant's absence has been the hardest part of planning.
"The bosses are torn in regards to how they can hit the right tone.
"They want to be respectful to people involved in Ant's car accident, while not bringing down the mood of the show."
The source added that producers were worried that a 'sombre start' would affect the show, as it is all meant to be about having fun.
It had also been reported that bosses are toying between three different options - Dec to apologise for Ant's absence and referencing the drink-drive incident, send a goodwill message to his best mate in rehab, or not addressing it at all but joking about presenting on his own.
Earlier today, the Saturday Night Takeaway Twitter account shared a poignant photo of an official show script, which bore the words 'Presented by Declan Donnelly'.
Just a little photo to prove that we don't just wing it, there is actually a script! #SaturdayNightTakeaway pic.twitter.com/1pTOJsEUtP
- Saturday Night Takeaway (@itvtakeaway) March 31, 2018
The image was captioned: "Just a little photo to prove that we don't just wing it, there is actually a script!"
But it obviously wasn't what was in the picture that caught everyone's attention, it was what wasn't there - Ant's name in the hosting credits.
"Gonna be weird watching 'Dec and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway' instead of 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway," wrote one Instagram user.
Another added: "Just seeing this makes me so sad."
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