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Comedian Robert Webb has withdrawn from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health, the BBC said.
The Peep Show star, who had open heart surgery two years ago, said he was advised by a doctor to quit the show after he had “begun to feel symptoms” while training for the BBC One celebrity dancing competition.
Webb, 49, was partnered with Dianne Buswell in the show.
— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) October 13, 2021
He said in a statement: “I’m extremely sorry to have to announce that I’m withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health.
“Two years ago I had open heart surgery and although I believed I was fit enough to take on Strictly and its demanding schedule, it became clear that I had bitten off way more than I could chew for this stage in my recovery.
“I had begun to feel symptoms that led me to seek an urgent consultation with my heart specialist, and it was her view that it would be better for the sake of my health to step back from the show.
“I’m proud of the three dances that Dianne Buswell and I managed to perform and deeply regret having to let her down like this.
“I couldn’t have wished for a more talented partner or more patient teacher, and it’s a measure of Dianne’s professionalism and kindness that I was able to get as far as I did.”
He thanked viewers for voting for him and Buswell, adding he was “especially touched by the support from fellow heart patients”.
“I think perhaps I was too eager to impress them. They will know that recovery doesn’t always go in a straight line, and I hope they’re not too disappointed that I ran into the limits of my resilience much sooner than I’d hoped,” he said.
“I leave knowing that Strictly viewers are in very safe hands and I’ll be cheering for my brother and sister contestants all the way to Christmas.
“Despite this sad ending, it has been a genuine honour to be part of this huge, joyful and barking mad TV show. Long may it continue.”
During his time on the show Webb completed a tango, a cha cha and a quickstep.
Last week he finished tenth on the judges’ movie week leaderboard with a score of 25 for his The Muppets-inspired dance, which he performed while dressed as Kermit The Frog.
Buswell said: “As a massive fan of Robert’s I was delighted to find out that he was joining the Strictly family.
“On top of this, to find out he was my partner was the icing on the cake.
“We made a great team, worked hard and had a good laugh along the way.
“I am so proud of the three amazing dances we produced. I know Robert had a lot more to give to the competition but his health of course comes first and I wish him a speedy recovery.
“I feel lucky to have danced with him and to call him a friend.”
Sarah James, Strictly Come Dancing executive producer, said: “Although we are so sad that Robert has withdrawn from the show we completely understand and support his decision, health always comes first.
“Despite their Strictly journey coming to an end earlier than anyone would have hoped, Robert and Dianne really made their mark on the competition, with three unforgettable dances choreographed superbly by the brilliant Dianne.
“They have been a wonderful partnership and we’d like to thank them for the commitment, creativity and joy they brought to the show.
“Everyone involved in Strictly Come Dancing sends Robert their love and best wishes for his continued recovery.”
This is sad! They did some really brilliant dancing, I thought. Sorry there won't be more. And to those asking if I'll be stepping in to replace him: I'm afraid not. I prefer to dance like nobody's watching. And I can only do that if nobody's watching. https://t.co/VATyJhQFg5
— David Mitchell (@RealDMitchell) October 13, 2021
Webb’s comedy partner David Mitchell called the news “sad”.
In a tweet, he added: “They did some really brilliant dancing, I thought. Sorry there won’t be more.
“And to those asking if I’ll be stepping in to replace him: I’m afraid not.
“I prefer to dance like nobody’s watching. And I can only do that if nobody’s watching.”
Watch: Strictly Come Dancing pro Kai Widdrington caught telling partner ‘I love you’