News : Ant McPartlin
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News : Ant McPartlin

Offshore Technology International -
Ant McPartlin compared to disgraced Michael Barrymore by ITV as his secret NOEL EDMONDS counselling session is revealed. ITV sources are concerned about how best to support their top talent

Ant McPartlin has been compared to disgraced former presenter Michael Barrymore by ITV sources, who are concerned the TV company hasn't fully 'learned its lesson' from supporting the fallen star.

After Ant's arrest on Sunday on suspicion of drink-driving, ITV decided to pull him from the remaining three episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway - and cancelled this weekend's show while bosses review their options.


'ITV has taken a joint decision with Ant and Dec's team not to broadcast Saturday Night Takeaway this weekend,' a spokesperson said yesterday afternoon.

'We will be reviewing options for the last two episodes of the series (March 31 and April 7) which would not feature Ant, who is taking time off to seek treatment. We very much hope that he gets the help that he needs.'

While the telly company's comments appear to offer its support, behind the scenes ITV executives are said to be worried about how Ant's problems reflect on the channel.

One even compared Ant's situation to Barrymore, who battled through eight years of sex scandals and alcoholism at the height of his fame.

The Daily Mail reports one senior ITV source told them that 'lessons have been learned' since Barrymore's decline, after a man was found dead in his swimming pool after a house party in 2001.

Another ITV executive told the paper bluntly: '[Ant] cannot be back on the screen. He could have killed somebody.'

It's also emerged that Ant turned to a surprising face for help and support when he was at his lowest: Noel Edmonds.


According to the same newspaper, Ant was given a secret counselling session by Noel, who has previously spoken of his rock-bottom moment when the BBC scrapped his hit show Noel's House Party.

'Noel's always been a huge fan of Ant and Dec. He thinks they are terrific presenters. It deeply saddened him to see the anguish and pain Ant was going through last year. When he heard Ant would appreciate a chat, he was only too happy to help,' a mutual pal told the Mail.

'Although he is too straight to touch drugs, Noel knew there is a slippery path you can go down.'

Ant is said to have asked Noel for advice on coming back from his problems and wanted advice from someone who has been in showbiz for as long as Noel.

'He basically told Ant that he wasn't alone. He advised him: 'Go back to being the person you once were and surround yourself with people you trust and who love you',' the source added.

However, Ant's rep rubbished the claims to Mirror Online, telling us: 'I don't have any comment on articles written by people or 'sources' who neither know Ant or know anything about him.'


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