Presenting pair Ant and Dec have won big at the National Television Awards for the 18th time in a row, despite one half of the duo taking a break from TV.
Ant McPartlin announced he was taking a step back from small screen duties in August 2018, to engage in treatment for alcohol dependence.
Moved by the award, McPartlin said he did not feel right accepting it, but paid tribute to the dedication of his “best mate” Donnelly, as the duo from Newcastle embraced on stage.
He missed out on accompanying Declan Donnelly to Australia to film I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! with Holly Willoughby standing in.
But Ant and Dec claimed the Best TV Presenter award at the 2019 NTAs, with McPartlin beating his I’m A Celebrity replacement to claim the honour.
The pair also saw off competition from Bradley Walsh, Graham Norton and Phillip Schofield.
Their success came as awards presenter Dermot O’Leary said: “If they win it, having not been on television, we may as well just chuck in the towel.”
An emotional McPartlin said: “This is a genuine shock, especially this year. We want to say thank you to everybody. I really don’t think that I can accept this award this year.
“The one reason we won the award this year is this guy – his hard work, his wit, his dedication. Best mate in the world. I love this guy.”
The pair received a standing ovation from the crowd as they claimed their 18th consecutive Best Presenter award, and were visibly moved by being named winners at the 2019 awards.
McPartlin struggled to offer his thanks to everyone who had supported them, and those who had voted for them in a difficult year.
Donnelly shared a joke at the expense of host Dermot O’Leary, who said that other talents should give up if Ant and Dec were victorious this year.
Donnelly said: “I’ve got him back now, and now we’re back together.
“Special thank you to Dermot who said he was going to chuck in the towel if we won this year.”
Accepting their dominance of the award, O’Leary said: “We chucked in the towel in 2005.”
On the Ant and Dec Twitter account, the pair wrote: “Thank you doesn’t seem to cover it this year. We are humbled and honoured. We are so appreciative of your continued support and good wishes, they are never taken for granted.”
Although Willoughby lost out to the presenter she replaced in the I’m A Celebrity jungle, she did enjoy success with the This Morning team, which claimed Best Daytime show.
Piers Morgan was left looking glum for the cameras as the winner was read out, ahead of Good Morning Britain.
Danny Dyer made an impassioned speech, which forced an apology for bad language from O’Leary, in which he thanked Harold Pinter for believing in him as a young actor.
David Dimbleby won the Special Recognition award, and made a similarly emotional speech, calling for the BBC to be preserved as a national institution.
Bodyguard claimed two awards, for Best New Drama, and the Best Drama Performance award went to Richard Madden.
Danny DeVito presented the latter award, and was booed for appearing to support Arsenal.