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Ant & Dec Takeaway is shelved

Primetime stars: Ant & Dec host Saturday Night Takeaway PICTURE: ITV/REX

TROUBLED TV star Ant McPartlin has announced he is taking the ‘rest of the year off’ — and Saturday Night Takeaway is on pause until 2020.

His decision also means he will not be appearing on I’m A Celebrity with long-term TV partner and friend Declan Donnelly in November.

It comes after he was fined £86,000 for drink-driving earlier this year. He is also going through an acrimonious divorce with wife Lisa Armstrong.

In a statement on their website, the Geordie duo promised to bring their hit Saturday night ITV show back ‘bigger and better than ever’ in 2020. Ant, 42, said: ‘My recovery is going very well and for that to continue, having spoken to Dec and ITV, I have made the decision to take the rest of the year off.

‘I’d like to thank both Dec and ITV for their continued support and I look forward to getting back to work in the new year.’

Drink-drive shame: Ant in March

Dec, also 42, added: ‘Whilst I am obviously sad at the thought of being without my best friend in Australia this year, I am proud of the work Ant hasbeen doing privately and I am fully supportive of his decision. I’m looking forward to us both being reunited on screen in 2019.’

The decision to ‘rest’ Saturday Night Takeaway was taken because neither of the presenters ‘wanted to compromise the quality of the show’.

Dec hosted Britain’s Got Talent and Saturday Night Takeaway solo after Ant went into rehab following his arrest in March for a drink-drive smash in Richmond, south-west London.

ITV director of television Kevin Lygo said Ant was ‘clearly making good progress’ and it was ‘completely supportive’ of him taking ‘as much time as he needs’.

The channel will announce plans for I’m A Celebrity ‘in due course’.

Ant last night tweeted thanks for messages of support.

His arrest came during his divorce battle with make-up artist Ms Armstrong, 41, to whom he was married for 12 years.