His showbusiness partner Declan Donnelly also revealed he had “sought help when Ant was away” through counselling as it was the “most destabilising thing that ever happened to me”. The pair, both 43, who met as boys in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, have spoken candidly in an interview with the Guardian newspaper on Ant and his 20-month driving ban. He had pleaded guilty to drink driving after a three-car crash in Richmond, South-west London in March last year.

No-one was hurt but he was more than twice the drink-drive limit.

Dec, a married father-of-one, said when he heard about the incident he went from disbelief to anger at his partner’s “irresponsibility” but their career was the last thing he was thinking about.

“Everything else pales into insignificance,” he said. “We always said our career was built on friendship and our friendship was the secret of our success. The career happened by accident.”

Of therapy he added: “It helps to talk to somebody independent, who doesn’t watch or care about TV.”

Ant admitted he feared his career was over. He said: “I’ve got great belief in Dec’s talent, so I knew he’d be OK. There might’ve been a point where we said, ‘We’ve had great fun, but can we recapture what we had?’ 

“We’ve talked honestly about it. I was lost. Life just swallowed me up for a few years.” 

Speaking about TV presenter Holly Willoughby replacing him as Dec’s co-host on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! last year he said: “It’s like watching him with another man. It was too hard, but I wasn’t watching it in a jealous or angry way.”

He also thanked fans: “It’s a testament to us having been around so long and people having grown up with us that they’ve allowed us – well, allowed me – to come back.”

The duo return to ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent next weekend.

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