'He's not a malicious person, he's just got himself into a place' - Simon Cowell 'will support' Ant McPartlin
Simon Cowell says Ant McPartlin will almost definitely return to 'Britain's Got Talent' next year.
The 58-year-old talent show boss says he will "support" the 42-year-old presenter "when he comes back", after Ant stepped away from the live semi-finals and final last week to focus on his personal issues following his drink driving conviction earlier this year.
He said: "Maybe the pressure was more than I realised. I will support Ant when he comes back. He's not a malicious person, he's just got himself into a place.
"But he has owned it and he's going to deal with it. He's taken a step back because his health is way more important than a TV show. I'm almost certain he'll be back next year. And we want him back."
Simon added that Ant isn't alone in dealing with his issues, and described the situation as "a wake-up call" for the star.
He is quoted by the Sunday Mirror newspaper as saying: "He's not a bad person, he's not the only person these things happen to. He's in the public eye. It's a wake-up call. It's as simple as that."
As a result of Ant's absence, his TV partner Dec Donnelly went solo for the live shows after their joint efforts in the pre-recorded auditions stage were aired.
Speaking during the final, Simon told Dec: "I just want to say, to you Dec, you have done an outstanding job this week."
Throughout the week of live shows, Dec had addressed Ant's absence multiple times, making jokes about the situation.
Introducing a pair of jazz singers, Dennis DeMillie and Marvin Muoneke, he quipped: "We start with two men who are absolutely inseparable.
"They're a double act everyone loved in the auditions and now they're back together for semi-final week. Must be nice."
The final was won by 37-year-old comedian Lost Voice Guy - whose real name is Lee Ridley - with fellow comic Robert White finishing second.
Speaking after he won, he said: "I have been blown away by the support of the judges and the general public. I've got so much love for everyone and I'm really grateful for it all.
"I'm very excited to get to perform for the Queen. I've loved her since she sang 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' "