Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly came out to near silence on tonight’s Saturday Night Takeaway for the first ever show without an audience.
The Geordie presenters have been forced to present the show to an empty studio amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The feint sound of the reduced crew cheering could be heard as the boys ran down the stairs – with Dec jokingly high-fiving the air.
Dec admitted it was “a little bit weird” as he praised the “smaller then usual but still amazing crew” for putting the show on.
There was silence when the lads shouted out “don’t just win the ads…”, so they were forced to run round to the seats and add “win them” themselves.
I’m A Celebrity star Joel Dommett was in the booth as tonight’s guest announcer and was seen wiping the microphone with an antibacterial wipe.
The presenters made up for the lack of an audience by pressing buttons to produce crowd noises.
Saturday Night Takeaway viewers admitted the opening felt strange but praised Ant and Dec for bringing some joy.
One happy viewer said: “Oh its so sweet that @antanddec are working so hard too bring us all some entertainment in the sadness of the world. Beautiful Humans”
“Aren’t they doing well? This can’t be easy… @antanddec are just what we all needed,” added another.
A third said: “Is super weird without the audience but the boys are working hard already!”
“Great job guys thank you for making sure that the show still goes on. Saturday Nights would not be the same without the two of you on the TV,” said a fourth.
On Friday’s This Morning, the boys told presenters Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes it would be a “strange” show with no audience.
As Dec explained the seats would remain empty, Ant said: “We will, we’ll do the same things that we normally do just without the noise.”
Dec went on: “We will go on with the show, we’ve got loads of stuff in the show tomorrow night. It’s jam packed.
“We’ve got some surprises as well, we’re just gonna see how it goes and try and bring some smiles to people’s faces.”
The boys have acknowledged that there are no guarantees the show will be back next weekend amid the ever-changing crisis.
They fear the tonight’s Saturday Night Takeaway may be the last episode for some time, but are keen to bring some laughs while they can.
Ant added: “We wanted to do the show just to put a smile on people’s faces. We might not be able to do another one, we don’t know yet.”
A Saturday Night Takeaway spokesperson said: “Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead this weekend without a studio audience. Our priority is safeguarding the well-being of everyone involved.
“The show will be made with a reduced production crew and in accordance with the latest guidance from Public Health England.
“The team are looking forward to bringing our viewers a brilliant show on Saturday evening.”
*Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway airs Saturdays on ITV at 7pm