Ant and Dec wasted no time in addressing the elephant in the room as they reunited on ‘I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!’ on Sunday (19 November) night, cracking a joke about Ant’s rehab stint in the opening minutes of the show.
The launch episode marked Ant McPartlin’s return to TV, after checking himself into a treatment facility for an addiction to painkillers earlier this year.
And as he and pal Declan Donnelly prepared to introduce the latest batch of celebrities entering the jungle, they tackled the topic in perfect fashion.
Referencing reports that claimed Ant could have missed the series and have been replaced by Holly Willoughby, Dec opened the show by saying: “Good evening and welcome to Australia. We are here for three weeks, your hosts with the most, me and the gorgeous Holly Willoughby...”
“What?!” Ant interrupted.
“That is the wrong script,” he said, before turning to his pal. “Nobody was sure if you would make it.”
“Unbelievable,” Ant joked. “I am back, my friend.”
“Good to have you back,” Dec said, pulling his mate in for a hug.
“Good to be back,” Ant added.
Find someone who hugs you the way Dec hugs Ant 😍 😍 😍 #ImACeleb @imacelebrity @antanddec pic.twitter.com/vtsI5ijaWy
The star had been out of the spotlight in recent months, after he checked himself into a rehab in June, having admitted he had been struggling to manage the pain caused by a botched knee operation.
Fans took to Twitter to say how pleased they were to see them back together, also remarking how well Ant looked:
I’m am so SO looking forward to seeing you guys back where you belong ... on my telly! @antanddec @imacelebrity #ImACeleb xx
How nice is it to see Ant and Dec back man 😩 specially after everything’s ants been through. Absolute national treasures #imaceleb
so much respect for ant for not long coming out of rehab and overcoming that and then still flying over to australia so soon and doing i’m a celeb, wouldn’t be the same without both ant AND dec #ImACelebrity
November 19, 2017
@ITV @imacelebrity @antanddec Ant looking fantastic! Well done mate! Smashed rehab in the face and came out the other side stronger! Congrats 💪🏻 #inspiration #ImACelebrity2017 #ITV
November 19, 2017
Good to see Ant back on TV after his rehab, love this programme! @antanddec #ImACelebrity
How well does Ant look 👀 after his stint in rehab. Good to see you back on the box with your pal dec @antanddec @imacelebrity #ImACelebrity2017
Also considering that Ant has had a pretty tough time of things lately with rehab and recovery he looks very very well indeed. Very pleased for him indeed. #ImACeleb @antanddec
November 19, 2017
Beautiful handling of the "rehab" topic. You boys are a class act. TV needs you and in these shitty times, Britain needs you. Keep a straight bat. x
After leaving rehab in June, Ant opened up about his struggles in an interview with The Sun, revealing the extent of his addiction for the first time.
He subsequently spent some time in America in an attempt to escape press intrusion, as he continued his recovery.
Prior to Sunday’s show, the pair shared their delight in working together again, with Ant telling The Sun: “I’m excited to be back, I can’t wait. It’s going to be a good show. I’m feeling great.”
The launch episode of ‘I’m A Celebrity’ saw Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley, comedian Shappi Khorsandi, YouTuber Jack Maynard, footballer Jamie Vardy’s wife Rebekah, professional boxer Amir Khan, ‘Coronation Street’ star Jennie McAlpine, soap hunk Jamie Lomas, Toff from ‘Made In Chelsea’, The Saturdays singer Vanessa White and former footballer Dennis Wise all enter the jungle.
The show continues on Monday at 9pm on ITV.