Declan Donnelly gives emotional speech at Saturday Night Takeaway wrap party

Penultimate episode of the series was the first time Donnelly had hosted without Ant McPartlin in 29 years

Declan Donnelly presents Satuday Night Takeaway without Ant McPartlin

Declan Donnelly gave an emotional speech after hosting his first Saturday Night Takeaway without Ant McPartlin.

Donnelly addressed the audience at the show's wrap party on 30 March where he called it the "weirdest" show and admitted he "couldn't have done it without them".

The penultimate episode of this series was the first time Donnelly had hosted without McPartlin in 29 years, following the latter's arrest for drink-driving and subsequent return to rehab.

While his absence was not directly addressed, Donnelly noted briefly: "I've got twice the amount of work to do, so we're going to crack on."

The moment at the wrap party was recorded by a fan and sent to The Sun, with the comments confirmed as accurate to The Independent by his representative.

"I just wanted to say a huge, huge thank you to lots of people here," Donnelly said once the show went off-air. "Most of all I just wanted to thank you guys. That reception when I came down the stairs... I wasn't sure what was going to happen.

"I wasn't sure how I was going to do, or how you were going to react... but you carried me all the way through the show. I couldn't have done it without you guys. Thank you. I think that's it."

Paying tribute to the cast and crew of Saturday Night Takeaway he added: "Thank you to our amazing production team. They carried me through the show.

"To all the crew and staff her at the London studios, which has been our home, not just for tonight but for the last 20 years. We are going to miss this place enormously. We will never find a home like this so thank you. Goodnight, God bless, safe journey home. Happy Easter everybody."

Donnelly's solo hosting stint turned out to be the most-watched episode of the series with a total of 8.6m viewers - 700,000 more than the previous episode. As the episode came to an end, the audience gave him a standing ovation for braving it alone.

He is set to return as the solo host for the final episode of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway, which will be aired live from Florida on 7 April.

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