It’s been a story the nation has been following – the fall from grace of one of our most-loved TV stars who we’ve watched grow up and create a wholesome image and fabulous career.
But at the end of the day, he’s just one of us – with the same mind, same vulnerability, no super powers…and he’s had a tough time of it.
Most people would be affected by a struggle to have a child, massive work pressure, addiction and now a criminal record. But for Ant McPartlin, he’s had to do it all in the public glare – a massive pressure in itself. And added to that, he’s not just got himself to think about – he’s got his double act, Declan – one more pressure, who he will be acutely aware of letting them down.
But – communication has been the key to keeping him in a reasonably positive light as a drink-driver and much of that has been through Declan.
His statement outside court was top notch crisis communications, including an apology, empathy, remorse and self-criticism.
Remembering he’s still a mental health patient, this was a very brave thing to do – which he didn’t have to. You don’t usually see patients addressing the media and he could have paid his solicitor to do it instead!
The first Saturday Night Takeaway after his arrest was cancelled and social media timelines went bonkers! Some even thought it was still going ahead despite ITV confirming the cancellation.
Here’s my list of the crisis communications strategy that kept Ant in our minds before the sentencing.
In the days after his arrest, no further comment was made from ITV or Declan – despite huge media speculation and snatch photos of Ant going into rehab and Dec walking about.
The media broke the story of Dec’s baby news – but still no comment was made
Silence was broken when the following week, Declan announced that he would carry on alone to honour everyone who had won a place on the plane, were booked into the show or coming as an audience member etc.
No comment was made about Ant on Dec’s solo Saturday Night Takeaway – just a few funny comments between him and Stephen Merchant which was enough to give Ant a nod but not a full statement.
Declan then thanked fans for their support for getting him through a tough week and show.
Declan then went to the US to present the series finale and again, a few nods to Ant were made before, during and after.
A distance was kept between ITV, Dec and Ant but not a hostile one – it was all done very well.
Profiting from another’s misfortune…
The family he drove into seem to be doing well out of it – within hours of the sentencing the media had published their emotive ‘my child thought he was going to die’ story. His mum, who seems to be fronting it all up would only be known as Dr Ng in court, but for the media she’s out there proudly as Dr Audrey Ng, and will have done this interview whilst the court case was going on – It can’t be printed whilst court proceedings are ongoing to avoid prejudice.
She presumably received a handsome payment for it (on top of her wage as an NHS Consultant Psychiatrist wage and income from her private practice) and from what I can see, milked it dry.
It’s a shame she felt the need to profit from someone else’s misfortune and that must be a hard one for Ant to accept.
It’s best to have someone in place if you ever need Crisis Communications – remember me if you’re ever in a tricky situation.