Dermot O’Leary has said we “may as well just chuck in the towel” if Ant and Dec scoop a National Television Award despite the screen absence of one half of the duo.
The pair have been shortlisted for best presenter, even though Ant McPartlin stepped away from TV duties following his arrest for drink-driving.
O’Leary, 45, who will be hosting the awards, to be broadcast on ITV later this month, told the Press Association: “If they win it this year, we should just not do it anymore!
“If they win it, having not been on television, we may as well just chuck in the towel.”
The Chase star Bradley Walsh, chat show host Graham Norton, and This Morning‘s Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield are also up for best presenter.
“With the greatest respect to the boys, I think Holly has had such a great year, and Graham,” said O’Leary, a practising Roman Catholic and CAFOD ambassador.
Asked about Ant’s thoughts on being shortlisted, he said: “They (Ant and Dec) made the decision that they want to put themselves up this year, so you’d have to ask him.”
But he added: “Aside from all this, you want to win an award, of course you do when you are nominated for it, but most people just want to see Ant get better and then come back.”
Ant, who stepped down from presenting Saturday Night Takeaway following his arrest for drink-driving, is set to return to work today for this year’s Britain’s Got Talent auditions.
Last year, Dec hosted the live Britain’s Got Talent shows solo and later fronted I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! with Willoughby instead of Ant.
But Ant will be reunited with Dec at this year’s auditions for the hit ITV show, which are taking place at the London Palladium.
The 2019 National Television Awards will be broadcast live on ITV from 7.30pm on Tuesday 22nd January.
Picture: Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly in the press room after the National Television Awards 2018 held at the O2, London. (Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment).