EXCLUSIVE: After the darkest chapter of their lives, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are back in top form
Two years ago this time, Holly Willoughby was on Ant McPartlin’s I’m A Celebrity as he worked on his recovery.
He and best friend Declan Donnelly were facing one of the darkest chapters of their lives when Ant pleaded guilty of drinking and driving in March 2018 and went into rehab for the second time.
He had been hospitalized for an addiction to prescription pain medication the year before, and after his conviction, Ant bowed from work for the rest of the year while Dec went on with Saturday Night Takeaway and I’m A Celebrity.
Angry with Ant, but also very concerned for his well-being, Dec told the Guardian, « I wanted to hit him and hug him at the same time – and I didn’t know which to do first. ”
They both wondered if they had a future as a double punch, but realized that working together was what made them happiest.
And their joy was evident through this series of I’m A Celebrity, in which the duo are perfectly synchronized again.
And body language expert Judi James reveals to The Mirror the subtle signs that prove their friendship is truly healed. . .
« No matter who goes away as King or Queen of the Castle tonight, the real, undisputed winners of this I’m a Celebrity series just have to be Ant and December.
« The fans of this series really had to sit back on their couches and enjoy the fun for the first time instead of cheering on the guys on a show of fearful, nail-like support.
« Our pleasure depends on the guys being as fine-tuned as trapeze artists, and their success depends on making a complex ritual of ad-libs and jokes just look like it isn’t.
« This was really the show where the guys really made it so easy again that we could forget about their recent challenges as friends and professional partners.
« Ant and Dec are reverting to their signature set of consistent power balance displays. When Ant fell from our screens onto the front pages, it was Dec who increased his level of strength and experience to fill the void.
« And when Ant came back there was evidence that Dec was still the more dominant one, while Ant showed subtle signals of both relief and fear.
« Your performance has healed before our very eyes and all hair fractures seem invisible to the naked eye.
« Your reflection is intense again and your timing is flawless. They dress and often stand in mirrored poses, and this looks like a subliminal rather than a conscious trait.
« What the genius of body language does, however, is how they can change states in ways that not many duplicate acts can. One minute they’re posing like peas in a pod and the next they’re morphing into straight-man-funny-man mode. They even swap these roles, taking turns playing the dead end or the adult for the child.
« Your cues and their connection signs are now creating constant silent communication between them, and they’re listening again with those fun non-verbal responses, like big eyes at the camera or raised eyebrows to share the joke with us at home.
« Their pace seemed to be faster on this series, and they expanded their ad lib scenes in a way that must signal restored confidence. And they were moving faster again.
« You can see that they are both relaxed now and enjoying their shared gags and quick jokes again.
« Part of the fun was feeling like we overheard two close friends having weird, naughty fun and twisting each other up, and this is where Ant and Dec seem to be back. «
Ant McPartlin, I’m a celebrity. . . Get me out of here !, Ant & Dec, Declan Donnelly, Lisa Armstrong
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