ONE half of television’s most famous duo will find himself in an unusual position on Saturday – by himself. Declan Donnelly will present ITV’s flagship weekend show Saturday Night Takeaway on his own for the rest of this series, the channel has confirmed.

Last Saturday’s show was cancelled after the other half of the duo, Ant McPartlin, was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and later charged.

The following two episodes, which will air tonight and on April 7, will now be presented solo by Dec, although it is understood pre-recorded segments of the show featuring Ant will still be included.

Experts in male psychology from the University of Sunderland say this forced separation of the pair – career partners for decades – will have an impact on them both.

Dr Helen Driscoll, lecturer in psychology, says it could leave the pair questioning their own identities.

“When a really close friendship either breaks down or circumstances mean that the majority of time is spent apart, it may have an impact on identity,” she says.

“Two friends who spend almost all of their time together are likely to have, to some extent, a shared identity.

“In friendships and long-term relationships, people often become more similar in their beliefs, attitudes and interests as they get to know one another more and influence one another.

“When one partner, whether a friend or intimate, is no longer around, this might result in questions about identity – who am I now, without them?

“Following a major change to a long-term relationship, there may be a sense of loss. Even if two people remain friends, if they no longer spend much time together, or do the things they used to do together, the life they used to live is gone.

“It can take a long time to re-adjust to such a change.”

Ant and Dec have been entertaining the nation ever since they appeared on television’s Byker Grove as the loveable rogues PJ and Duncan.

During the 1990s, the Geordie duo went on to become pop stars with hits including Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble, before going on to host numerous TV shows like SMTV, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and Saturday Night Takeaway.

Last week, it was confirmed that Ant is taking a leave of absence from his TV work and will go back to rehab. He was first treated last year after struggling with an addiction to painkillers following a knee operation in 2015.

His arrest marked the latest in a string of personal setbacks, and his admission to rehab last year was followed, several months later, by the announcement that his marriage of 11 years to his wife Lisa had ended.

DR Rebecca Owens, a lecturer in psychology at the university, says the close relationship between Ant and Dec has been central to their success throughout their long careers.

“The bond between Ant and Dec is clearly deep; it is enduring and long-term, and has developed in the public eye,” she says.

“Together they have become some of the most successful presenters of all time, and it is debatable whether or not this would have happened to either of them separately.

“As is the case in many animal species, this alliance has helped them to increase in dominance – they are some of the most sought-after presenters – and ultimately increased their success.”

Dr Owens adds: “In male alliances, a bond can become so deep and enduring that people may unconsciously perceive themselves in their friend, conflating their own sense of self and status with the other. This means that one’s self-concept and identity can also become affected by what is happening with the other.”

What happens to their partnership in the long term is still unclear – much will depend on the outcome of the criminal charges due to be faced by Ant in court next month, and how successful his latest spell of treatment is.

For the time being though, it looks as if Dec will be going solo for the forseeable future.