Ant was fined a record £86,000 and banned from driving for 20 months after he crashed his car in March last year while more than twice the drink-drive limit.
He stepped down from TV from a year and spent time on his rehabitilation due to an addiction to subscription painkillers and for the drink-driving conviction.
In emotional interviews in their new documentary, Ant and Dec’s DNA Journey, the pair opened up about the impact of Ant’s troubles, which caused them to take a two-year break midway through filming.
McPartlin departure from his television commitments meant that Donnelly was left to present Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway alone, while Holly Willoughby stepped in to co-host the most recent series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
Anthony McPartlin was scared the public had “had enough” of him following his shock drink-drive conviction.
And best mate Declan Donnelly was “disappointed” that his friend and colleague didn’t open up to him about his battle with drink and prescription drug addictions
Ant, 43, said: “Y’know the last few years have been quite emotional, hard, they have been testing I would say in terms of how strong your love is and how strong your friendship is.”
Dec, 44, added: “It has been a tough couple of years and it has tested the bond we have shared since we were 13 years old. I was incredibly angry at the start, so angry.
“I was disappointed that he didn’t ever come to me and say, ‘I am struggling, I need you,’ because that is what I would do if the shoe was on the other foot.
“And he never came to me and that hurt me a lot.”
But the friendship survived.
Ant said: “Dec has been fantastic, he is a very kind man who has been supportive of me. Our friendship has been tested and we came through the other end and I will be forever thankful for the love we had.
“I thought the public had had enough and I wouldn’t be allowed to do what I love anymore which was a very sad affair.
“But coming back and being back on screen and seeing the love and support people have shown has been quite overwhelming. I can’t thank people enough.
“Dec means the world to me, his wellbeing, his health.
“Being back at work is a bonus, being back with my best friend. I know how lucky I am.”
Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey airs on Sunday 10 and Monday 11 November on ITV.
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! begins on ITV on 17 November