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Declan Donnelly — things you didn't know about the TV presenter

Declan Donnelly
Dec is one half of the presenting duo Ant and Dec. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Declan Donnelly is now one of the most popular TV presenters in the UK, alongside his best friend and co-host Ant McPartlin. The pair have been friends and colleagues for over 30 years, starting out on the popular North East TV series Byker Grove in the 90s where they played PJ and Duncan. 

The duo has gone on to present some of the most popular shows on telly, including I'm A Celebrity and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. Most recently, they won Best Presenter at the National Television Awards for the 20th year running!

Here are a few facts you might not know about the TV favourite…

1. Declan Donnelly has six brothers and sisters

Born and raised in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Dec is the youngest of seven. He has three sisters, Camelia, Patricia and Moira and three brothers, Martin, Eamonn and Dermott.

2. Dec married his manager

Declan Donnelly and wife Ali Astall

Dec and Ali have been married since 2015. (Image credit: Getty)

Dec is married to talent manager Ali Astell, who is originally from Newcastle, Australia (not the UK one!). They married in 2015 after knowing each other for over a decade, during this time Ali worked as Dec's manager. 

He told the Daily Express: "We always hung out. When she was single and I was single we'd go out for dinner on Valentine's Day together. Last year we went out as a couple. It was a little strange because we've had a working relationship for so long." 

3. Dec considered becoming a Catholic priest

Ant and Dec presenting I'm A Celebrity in Wales

Dec almost became a Catholic priest instead of a TV presenter.   (Image credit: ITV)

Dec's brother Dermott is a Catholic priest, and it was a career that he also considered pursuing because of his religion. He told the Daily Mail: "It was something I thought I could do and maybe I should do. But I went through the process and realised that I couldn’t do it."

Dermott has set up a youth outreach programme aimed at introducing disadvantaged youngsters to the Catholic Church, which Dec supports, and also told the Daily Mail: "I don’t advertise that I’m Dec’s brother, but the kids always seem to know. It bridges the gap between me and them."

During an appearance on ITV's DNA Journey, viewers were shocked to discover that Dec is related to Dixie Carter, a wrestling promoter from Texas. It was revealed that they're related on Dec’s father’s side, sharing a great-grandfather, and the team was able to track their ancestry and unite them for the first time in Ireland.

They were united in a pub where they finally got to meet, and Dec admitted: "It feels weird, you immediately have this kind of connection with them."

5. Dec is scared of birds

Despite hosting I'm A Celebrity and witnessing some horrible challenges involving creepy crawlies, it's actually birds that freaks Dec out the most. 

According to The Daily Star, a 2017 Bushtucker trial involved a room full of pigeons that flapped around the campmates' heads as they searched for a buzzer, prompted Dec to exclaim: "Oh no. No, no, no. No way, that is my worst!"

6. Dec is a patron of Sunshine Fund

Ant and Dec in their Byker Grove days

Ant and Dec in the early days.  (Image credit: Getty )

Both Ant and Dec are patrons of the charity Sunshine Fund, which supports children with disabilities across the North East of England. They also support Cash for Kids and The Alan Shearer Foundation, the latter of which was set up to directly support the Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle: a highly specialist, disability, respite, residential and social provision for people with complex disabilities and acute sensory impairments.

In addition to this, when their single Let's Get Ready to Rhumble reached No.1 in 2012, Ant & Dec donated the single's success to the charity ChildLine.

Declan Donnelly's Fact File

Frequently asked questions about the presenter...

How old is Declan Donnelly?

Declan Donnelly is 46 years old. He was born on 25 September 1975.

Is Declan Donnelly married?

Yes, Declan Donnelly has been married to Ali Astall since 2015.

Does Declan Donnelly have any children?

Declan and Ali have one child together, a daughter named Isla. She was born in 2018.

Where was Declan Donnelly born?

Declan Donnelly was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

How tall is Declan Donnelly?

Declan Donnelly is 5ft 5 inches tall.

Twitter: @antanddec

Instagram: @antanddec

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Lucy Buglass

Lucy is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2016 with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.


She is also a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema, setting up her own website Lucy Goes to Hollywood in 2017 to review films in her spare time. Her favourite genres are horror, thriller and anything crime related. When she's not writing about film and TV, you'll likely find her playing video games, reading, and trying her hand at podcasting.