Simon Cowell is delighted about Ant McPartlin’s plan to return to TV screens for Britain’s Got Talent after battle with addiction

SIMON Cowell has revealed his delight at Ant McPartlin’s plan to return to TV screens for next year’s Britain’s Got Talent.

The 42-year-old has been on an indefinite break from work this year so that he can tackle his alcohol addiction following a drink-driving conviction in April.

Simon believes Ant will be back next year to begin filming
PA:Press Association
BGT’s Amanda Holden, Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Ant, Dec and Alesha Dixon celebrate in matching pink hats

It prompted Ant to stand down from co-hosting this year’s I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! and postpone next year’s series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

But boss Simon is optimistic Ant will be back at auditions for BGT when it begins filming next spring and has praised his friend for doing “the right thing” by taking a break.

Simon explained: “That is what I always thought would happen, so I am happy to hear that. He is welcome back and we have missed him. But he has done the right thing by taking some time off, and he will come back fresh and will enjoy it.

“We didn’t speak while he was in rehab but we got messages through Dec – as we have always done – but I didn’t want to impose on his privacy.

Filming for Britain’s Got Talent is due to begin in the spring

“But we have always made it clear what our relationship is, we help each other. We are friends and he is welcome back anytime.”

Despite relaunching the new-look X Factor tonight, Simon is already looking ahead to his other upcoming shows, BGT and new BBC1 talent contest The Greatest Dancer, and renewing his contract with ITV, which expires at the end of 2019.

And he remains confident The X Factor will run beyond next year’s 16th series as Simon has received offers to take the show elsewhere if ITV ever decides to axe it.

He said: “Well to be honest with you it’s really difficult. I’ve got three offers on the table this month from broadcasters who want to do a deal on this show and on Britain’s Got Talent.

Simon and Ant have worked together for more than a decade
Rex Features
Simon has employed Ant and Dec to present various TV shows throughout the years
Rex Features

“I mean they are proven brands and they bring in the right audience so that has never been an issue.

“We’ve turned down bigger deals in the past but all I’m saying is we know the audience it brings in and what it looks like in advertising.

“But funnily enough, I have never been concerned about not getting a new deal. My concern is more of a personal thing to make sure the audience don’t get bored with it.

“Luckily the public still like these shows and they’ve liked them for longer than we ever thought. We’ve never had a problem selling the show.”

Simon has been vocal about his support for Ant during his rehabilitation
Getty – Contributor
Ant and Simon first worked together on Pop Idol in 2001
Getty Images – Getty
Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell celebrates his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with his partner and their son Eric
Splash News

And despite approaching his 60th birthday ­— which he jokes is “the new 40” — Simon reaffirmed his intention to never retire.

He added: “Oh forget it. No, I mean the good thing is the shows do well, they’re fun, and they’re producing talent, which is the most important thing. So why would you walk away from that? I wouldn’t.

“Certainly now with Louis (Tomlinson) and Robbie (Williams) we will definitely work on more things together as partners.

“And then, when my son Eric is at an age where he learns enough and wants to do it, but knows these people are friends, he will do.

“That’s always what I’ve wanted my company to be — that’s definitely my long-term plan.”

Milions down the drain

ANT and Dec face losing millions of pounds after the collapse of an exclusive Algarve complex where they bought villas.

Documents show the TV hosts are owed around £2.5million each following a financial disaster affecting buyers at The Keys development in Quinta do Lago.


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