Comedian Robert Webb and his dance partner, Dianne Buswell, are withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing.
Webb, who underwent open heart surgery two years ago, made the decision due to ill health.
He stated that he had an urgent consultation with his heart specialist after experiencing symptoms, and she advised him to withdraw from the series.
Despite Webb’s departure, a Strictly spokesperson stated that the BBC One show would continue as usual this weekend.
Webb, 49, expressed “extremely regret” at having to withdraw from the competition, adding, “it became clear that I had bitten off way more than I could chew for this stage in my recovery.”
“I’m proud of the three dances Dianne Buswell and I were able to perform and deeply regret letting her down in this way,” he said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more talented partner or a more patient teacher, and it’s a testament to Dianne’s professionalism and kindness that I got this far.”
He thanked everyone who voted for him and his dance partner, saying he was “especially touched” by the support from other heart patients – and that he may have been “too eager to impress them.”
“Recovery doesn’t always go in a straight line,” he said, adding that “it was always going to be a difficult mountain to climb.”
“I leave knowing that Strictly viewers are in very capable hands, and I’ll be rooting for my brother and sister contestants right up until Christmas,” he said. “Despite the sad ending, it has been a true honour to be a part of this massive, joyful, and barking mad TV show.”
In a video that aired on BBC Two’s It Takes Two, he said he would “miss learning new dances and being able to do new dances… it’s been a ride.”
Buswell said she was a “massive fan” of Webb’s and was thrilled to hear he was joining the show, adding that being paired with him was “icing on the cake.” She stated that they had worked hard “while having a good laugh along the way.”
She continued, saying: “I’m sure Robert had much more to offer the competition, but his health comes first, and I wish him a speedy recovery. I consider myself fortunate to have danced with him and to call him a friend.”
Fellow contestants also expressed their best wishes, with BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker stating that it had “been wonderful to watch them enjoying every dance each week.”
Sarah James, executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, thanked the pair for their “commitment, creativity, and joy they brought to the show.”
She said they were “so sad,” but they understood and supported his decision, and that everyone on Strictly had sent him “love and best wishes for his continued recovery.”
Webb and Buswell had previously performed three dances together, the most recent as Kermit and Miss Piggy in last weekend’s Movie Week performance.
On Saturday night, they performed a quickstep to The Muppet Show theme from The Muppets Movie and received 25 points from the judges. They received enough votes from viewers to avoid the dance off, which was broadcast on Sunday.
Webb, who previously became a fan favourite with a Flashdance routine on Let’s Dance for Comic Relief, had stated that signing up for Strictly was motivated by his health condition.
“It’s partly my age, and it’s partly that nearly two years ago I had quite a big-deal health thing,” he told the BBC before the live shows began. “I had to have open heart surgery, so since then I think my attitude is basically, this is no time to be cool, sitting at the edges watching the other people do the dancing.”