ITV apologises for Ant and Dec's 'Saturday Night Takeaway' sketch costumes

The Rising Sun flag could be seen on Ant and Dec's headbands during Anne Marie's performance. (ITV)

ITV have issued an apology over the latest instalment of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway which has attracted controversy due to the use of the Rising Sun flag.

Presenters Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly donned karate outfits for their End of the Show Show on Saturday 29 February alongside Anne Marie, wearing bandanas featuring Japan's Rising Sun flag which has been said to be a symbol of the country's imperialist past.

An ITV spokesperson said: “We apologise for any offence caused during the End of the Show Show by the costumes worn.

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“This was clearly unintended and we have taken steps to re-edit that part of the episode for the Hub and for repeat broadcasts.”

It comes after Anne Marie apologised to fans for the "hurt" caused over the use of the flag.

On Sunday, the singer took to Twitter to share: “I sincerely apologise to all those who were affected and hurt by my appearance last night on a UK TV.

“I want you to know I had nothing to do with the costumes on this sketch. Unfortunately, education on this part of the history wasn’t done and I am also hurt by the pain this signifies for so many people.

“Our team is talking to the TV station, working on taking down the footage, so that it does not cause any more pain.”(sic)

In front of the flag of the Rising Sun, World War II veterans in Imperial Navy uniforms pray for the war-dead at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo 15 August 1999, on the 54th anniversary of Japan's surrender. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP via Getty Images)

The Rising Sun flag is a red disc on a white background, with 16 red rays emanating from it.

It was incorporated during the 19th century by the Japanese army and was the flag of its navy during the Second World War, at a time when the country was allied with Nazi Germany.

However, it has been utilised as a national symbol for the country for centuries and is still used for adverts and in popular culture in Japan.

It is also currently the flag for the East Asian nation's navy.