Wednesday the 24th of February the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Catholic presenter to go solo in Saturday Night Takeaway

Catholic TV presenter Declan Donnelly will present next weekend’s Saturday Night Takeway without his friend and long-time TV partner Ant McPartlin.

The former Byker Grove star and one half of much-loved TV presenting duo Ant & Dec announced that he would take the reins of the ITV show as news broke that Mr McPartlin had been charged with drink-driving, following his arrest on Sunday 18th March.

The incident follows Mr McPartlin’s recent release from rehab after he received treatment last year for an addiction to painkillers – the result of a knee operation in 2015.

Following the arrest, it was confirmed that Mr McPartlin was taking a step back from his TV commitments and would return to rehab.

ITV cancelled this weekend’s Saturday Night Takeway following reports of Mr McPartlin’s arrest. However, Mr Donnelly, whose brother, Fr Dermott Donnelly, is a Catholic priest and Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, said he would present the remaining two shows of the series starting on Saturday 31st March.

Mr Donnelly, who once considered his own vocation to become a Catholic priest, said he did not want to disappoint fans of the show, especially those who had won competitions to travel to Florida and see the series finale, which emanates from the Sunshine State.

‘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,’ Mr Donnelly said in a statement.

‘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,’ he added.

Mr Donnelly, a former pupil at St Michael’s R.C. Primary School and St Cuthbert’s R.C. High School, is a supporter of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle’s Youth Ministry Team, which is directed by his brother, Fr Donnelly.

Mr Donnelly and Mr McPartlin have previously taken part in Youth Ministry Team events, including the opening of the Diocesan Youth Village in 2010.

As well as presenting Saturday Night Takeaway, the pair host ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

Picture: Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. (Matt Crossick/PA).