Holly Willoughby made her I’m A Celeb debut in classic style… by making jokes about co-host Dec’s height.
Standing literally in Ant McPartlin’s place – always on the left of Dec – she coined the catchphrase: “He’s loads of fun and he’s five foot one…”.
Declan Donnelly was equally full of humour, with the pair having a laugh during the live segments of the show.
It was announced Ant would not present the show alongside Dec after he was convicted of drink driving in April.
It is the first time Ant and Dec have not presented I’m A Celeb together since it started in 2002.
Holly’s joke picked up on the running gag about Dec’s height which was a highlight of the 2017 series featuring Dennis Wise, labelled a “very, very small man” by Dec – to Ant’s growing incredulity during the series.
Although he is not in Australia this year, Ant did wish the new presenting team good luck ahead of the show – and slipped in another dig at Dec’s lack of inches.
He tweeted: “All the very best of luck to the little fella and @hollywills for the show tonight. Lots of love from the big fella!! A”
Dec, 43, wasted no time in turning his introduction of his new co-host into an opportunity for comedy.
“The more eagle-eyed viewers among you will notice a big change to this year’s show” he said.
“One of the most gorgeous presenters on British television…. has been joined by Holly Willoughby!”
Speaking after the show on ITV2’s Extra Camp, Holly said: “It’s so overwhelming, this show, watching this was part of my life for years and it’s surreal being here.
Dec also added that the first time he showed Holly round the camp she “looked up with little tears in her eyes and said ‘its beautiful'”.
There was plenty of reaction on social media to the 37-year-old This Morning star’s debut, with some fans commenting on the chemistry [or lack of] between Dec and Holly.
Paul tweeted: “Dec is doing his best, bless his little cotton socks, but I’m not feeling much comedy return from poor Holly.
“Hope she settles down and drops the morning TV feel.”
But others said it was too early to judge how Holly would fare on the show.
TV Zone tweeted: “Holly was never going to be as good as or better than Ant. In fact, it would be worrying if she was.
“She was Dec’s choice and it’s only for one series. She’s doing fine in my opinion.”
However, as ever Holly and Dec are only ever intended to be the sideshow to the main “jungle action” of I’m A Celeb, featuring 10 brave or foolhardy celebrities.
In this year’s series, former Torchwood actor John Barrowman, ex-EastEnder Rita Simons, Coronation Street’s Sair Khan and The Vamps guitarist James McVey were the first celebrities to be thrown into the mix.
They were quickly joined by former football manager Harry Redknapp and X Factor singer Fleur East,…..
Then the growing group was further boosted by TV presenter Nick Knowles, The Chase quizmaster Anne Hegerty, and actresses Malique Thompson-Dwyer and Emily Atack, best known for Hollyoaks and The Inbetweeners respectively.
Harry Redknapp provided an early indication of what sort of campmate he would be, joking about how he expected bacon sandwiches to be presented to him on arrival.
He also later went on to tell contestants Nick Knowles, John Barrowman and Sair Khan about how he once ran over his wife… while the quartet were taking part in a driving challenge.
Fans were also keen to point out Nick’s potential contribution to construction duties in the camp because of his work on DIY SOS, whilst John Barrowman’s theatrical behaviour also got an honourable mention.
As always there are usually one or two late arrivals who get dropped into camp later – with TV and radio legend Noel Edmonds widely rumoured to be among those yet to be unveiled.
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