Anton McPartlin and Declan Donnelly kicked off Saturday Night Takeaway by making light of the coronavirus outbreak – after announcing it would ‘business as usual’ on the show.
In scenes that have left some viewers furious, the comedy duo were joined by a 200-strong live studio audience in the London Television Centre for the night’s episode.
Ant also jokingly asked for some hand sanitiser before walking down the studio stairs to greet co-host Dec with a foot tap and an elbow bump to laughs from the crowd.
Awkward: Anton McPartlin and Declan Donnelly kicked off Saturday Night Takeaway by making light of the coronavirus outbreak
Taking a more serious tone, the pair then addressed the cancellation of the series’ finale episode in Disneyworld, Florida.
Ant said: ‘I’m sure like us you’ve all been following the news, and in the current climate nothing is more important than people’s health.
‘Absolutely,’ added Dec. ‘And because of this we unfortunately won’t be able to bring you the final show of the series from Florida.’
But Ant then continued: ‘However Virgin Holidays and Disneyworld have kindly said that everybody who has won a place on the plane will be heading to Florida at a future date.
No touching: Ant also jokingly asked for some hand sanitiser before walking down the studio stairs to greet co-host Dec with a foot tap and an elbow bump to laughs from the crowd
And they added that there would be more places to give away throughout the show.
Ant and Dec confirmed that this week’s episode of Saturday Night Takeaway will be ‘business as usual’ despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The presenting duo took to Twitter to reveal they were en route to the studio to present the week’s episode, as ITV confirmed that the show would have a smaller live audience despite concerns.
It came after ITV also confirmed that the show’s finale trip to Disneyworld in Florida next month had also been cancelled, after the park confirmed that it would be closing until the end of the month to try and prevent the virus from spreading.
Posting to their joint Twitter account, Dec penned: ‘On our way in to prepare your #SaturdayNightTakeaway for tonight.
We’re still here! Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have confirmed that this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Takeaway will be ‘business as usual’ amid the coronavirus pandemic
It’s all happening! The duo tweeted that they would still be presenting the live show, as ITV also confirmed that the show would be going ahead with a live audience
‘We’re business as usual and will be for as long as we are able and allowed. We’ll do our best to bring you a few smiles. See you on the telly! D.’
ITV confirmed on Saturday that the live show would still feature a 200-strong audience, amid claims in Variety that an in-house ITV memo sent to staff stated that network bosses were ‘assessing all productions.’
Saturday Night Takeaway relies heavily on audience participation, with many of its attendees visiting the show after relatives or friends have been in touch asking to get involved.
Sad: On Friday ITV also confirmed that the Saturday Night Takeaway’s finale trip to Disney World in Florida had also been cancelled, with prize winners expected to travel at a later date
The show is known for springing surprises on unsuspecting audience members, and one is always selected to appear in the show’s main game Win The Ads.
A spokesperson for ITV told MailOnline: ‘Our priority is the well-being and safety of all our people and everyone who works with us on our shows and across our business.
‘We are in a developing and dynamic situation so we’re complying with the guidance from Public Health England and the World Health Organisation to make sure we keep everyone as safe and secure as possible.
‘All of our audience handling agencies are sharing the updated advice from the NHS site with audiences prior to attending our shows and we continue to work them to update advice as and when it changes.’
Still going on: In a statement ITV confirmed the show would still feature its live audience and insisted the ‘well-being of all their people’ remained a priority
So far only Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine have announced they will cancel live audiences during filming due to the threat of the coronavirus.
Websites such as Applause Store and SRO Audiences are still actively taking bookings from the general public to attend the filming of major shows filmed for ITV and Channel 4.
However, SRO Audiences – who offers tickets to the likes of ITV’s Loose Women, Channel 4’s The Last Leg – are following a similar approach to the BBC and offer a warning to those attending.
SRI Audiences have stipulated on their website that people with symptoms, or those who have been informed that they have had contact with someone who has tested positive, may not book tickets.
Their website reads: ‘Based on current advice, you may still book tickets and attend shows unless you have any symptoms or have been informed that you have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.’
On Friday ITV also confirmed that Saturday Night Takeaway’s planned trip to Walt Disney World in Florida for the show’s series finale next month had also been cancelled, after the park announced it would be closing until the end of March.
The channel confirmed that all 300 prize winners would still travel to Orlando at a later date, but the finale would now be filmed in London.
Keep calm and carry on: Websites such as Applause Store and SRO Audiences are still actively taking bookings from the general public to attend the filming of major shows filmed for ITV
An ITV spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We will no longer be broadcasting the Saturday Night Takeaway finale from Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.Walt Disney World has made the decision to close, beginning on Monday 16 March until the end of the month.
‘The wellbeing of all our prize winners, as well as our production team, is always our number one priority.
‘All recipients of a ‘Place on the Plane’ prize will have their prizes honoured and flown by Virgin Holidays for a 5-night stay at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida at such later date when it is practical for Virgin Holidays and Walt Disney World Resort to fulfil the prize.’
The coronavirus has continued to spread across the UK in recent days with a total of 798 cases and 11 deaths as of Friday.
Along with cancellation of numerous big events and all football fixtures for the next three weeks, the government have hinted that there could be a ban on mass gatherings in the future.
The virus has also wreaked havoc with the UK’s travel plans, as numerous airlines cancelled flights to destinations throughout Europe, who themselves have placed restrictions on people entering the country.
Soldiering on: The Saturday Night Takeaway finale will now be filmed at its studio in London