Ant McPartlin has said he thought his career was over and that the public had “had enough” of him, after his public struggle with addiction.
The TV presenter, 43, who took a break from the spotlight following his drink driving arrest, said the last two years had been “a very sad affair” but that “just being back on screen” was “quite emotional”.
McPartlin appears alongside Declan Donnelly in Ant and Dec’s DNA Journey, where the duo travel across the country, joined by genealogists and historians, as they follow their maternal and paternal bloodlines.
Filming for the programme began in 2017, but was halted after McPartlin crashed his car in March last year while more than twice the alcohol limit, before entering rehab.
The star struggled with a two-year addiction to super-strength painkillers following a knee operation in 2015, his stint in rehab coming six months after he was awarded an OBE for services to entertainment and broadcasting along with his presenting partner.
In scenes from the programme, which was completed this year, McPartlin says returning to the spotlight was “very emotional”.
He says: “Our friendship has been tested and we have come through the other end. And I will be forever grateful and thankful for the love we have.
“I thought the public had had enough.
“I just thought I wouldn’t be allowed to do what I love any more, which was a very sad affair.
“But, you know, coming back and just being back on screen and the affection and love and support that people have shown, has been quite overwhelming and very emotional.
“I can’t thank people enough.”
The show also sees Donnelly reveal how he thought their decades-long on-screen partnership would not “survive”.
The 44-year-old also admits that he was “incredibly angry” that his friend did not confide in him.
He said: “It has been a tough couple of years. It has really tested the bond we have shared since we were like 13 years old.
“I was incredibly angry at the start. So angry. Disappointed in him that he didn’t ever come to me and say: ‘I am struggling and I need you’.
“I thought that if the shoe was on the other foot I would have gone to him and said: ‘I am in trouble and I can’t handle this. I need your help’.
“And he never came to me. That hurt me a lot.”
Asked whether there was a point he thought he would lose McPartlin from his life, he replied: “Yeah. There was a point where I thought that was it.
“There were times I wasn’t sure it was going to survive, times you didn’t know he needed to survive or you wanted it to survive.”
The pair appeared together at a preview screening organised by Bafta in London on Tuesday.
The Saturday Night Takeaway stars, both from Newcastle upon Tyne, journey to Ireland as well as to the US, where they visit the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Their research also unearths evidence that the bones of one of their ancestors were deemed “of historical importance”.
Ant and Dec’s DNA Journey, a two-part co-production between Voltage TV and Mitre Television, starts on ITV on Sunday November 10 at 9pm.