Joe-Warren Plant has said he is “beyond heartbroken” after being forced out of Dancing On Ice by a positive coronavirus test.
The Emmerdale star and his professional partner Vanessa Bauer have both contracted the virus.
Plant said in a post on Instagram that appearing on the programme had been “the most amazing experience”.
He added: “For the past few months we have dedicated our entire lives to the show and I can’t even describe how I feel knowing we won’t be able to showcase what we were capable of and on the road to achieving.”
Addressing Bauer, he said: “Thankyou for putting up with me over the past few months.
“You have been the most amazing partner / teacher / friend I could possibly wish for. You taught me how to ICE SKATE!!! WOW!
“For that I could never repay you…”
Three of this year’s skaters had already been forced out of the competition early through illness or injury.
Last week, Plant and Bauer jointly topped the leaderboard after being awarded 32.5 points by the judges.
We can confirm that following positive Covid tests, @JoeWarrenPlant and @TheVanessaBauer have had to withdraw from this year's competition. They've been wonderful on the show and we thank them for all their dedication and beautiful performances ❤️ #DancingOnIce pic.twitter.com/Tg88lrhkfB
— Dancing on Ice (@dancingonice) February 12, 2021
They were the highest scorers alongside rapper Lady Leshurr and Coronation Street’s Faye Brookes.
Former athlete Colin Jackson, media personality Rebekah Vardy and radio DJ Sonny Jay are among the other skaters still in the competition.
Bauer said: “Joe-Warren has been growing every week into such a talented skater and I’m so sad we won’t be able to show more of the great routines we had planned.
“I am beyond proud and devastated, as we had so much more to show – he was the hardest working partner I’ve ever had.”
A spokeswoman for ITV said: “We can confirm that, following positive Covid tests, Joe-Warren Plant and Vanessa Bauer have had to withdraw from this year’s competition. They’ve been wonderful on the show this year and we thank them for all their dedication and beautiful performances.”
Last week, it was revealed that comedian Rufus Hound was withdrawing from the competition after he tested positive for coronavirus.
Reality TV star Billie Shepherd also left the show early after injuring herself during a fall, while actress and singer Denise Van Outen withdrew after she partially dislocated her shoulder during training.
Singer Myleene Klass, former skier Graham Bell and comedian Matt Richardson have been eliminated from the competition.
– Dancing On Ice continues on ITV on Sundays at 6pm.