A technical glitch left Britain’s Got Talent viewers watching a message of apology just minutes after Declan Donnelly joked about hosting his first solo show.
The star was without his presenting partner Ant McPartlin for the first time in the ITV talent show’s history on Monday night.
The TV duo had appeared together in the audition episodes as they were recorded before McPartlin stepped back from his presenting commitments when he was charged with drink-driving earlier this year.
He was banned from the road for 20 months and fined £86,000 after pleading guilty to driving while more than twice the legal limit.
As he opened the first live semi-final, Donnelly told the audience and viewers that nothing had changed, with the same judges and format, then quipped: “And the presenters… well, probably best not to dwell on that.”
However, things quickly went downhill when technical problems disrupted the broadcast from the Hammersmith Apollo.
The programme disappeared from television screens minutes after it started, and a message appeared on the screen saying: “We’re sorry for the disruption.”
Footage from earlier auditions were played as the glitch continued.
A message on the screen said: “We are sorry for the disruption to our schedule. We will return to normal programming shortly.”
When the broadcast resumed, Donnelly announced that weather was to blame.
“The weather here in London has caused a few technical difficulties,” he said.
Judge Simon Cowell chimed in: “Ant, you are coming back next year. You didn’t need to do that!”
Judge David Walliams later joked that Dec looked “a little tense” and offered him a massage.
The episode will see the first crop of hopefuls trying to win a place in the final.
They are dance group Cali Swing, singer Lifford Shillingford, dancer Shameer Rayes, magic acts Maddox Dixon and Ellie and Jeki, comedian Lost Voice Guy, escapologist Matt Johnson and The D-Day Darlings singers.