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Will Young’s Strictly Come Dancing departure: his former co-stars react

Will Young's former Strictly Come Dancing co-stars have reacted to his departure

Sophie Vokes-Dudgeon

Sending love to Will! Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly opened Saturday night’s Strictly Come Dancing with a special message for Will Young who withdrew from the show earlier this week.

After Tess explained the former Pop Idol winner’s shock departure (“for personal reasons”) Claudia left viewers in no doubt as to the affection that still remained on the show for their former costar.

“Will, if you’re watching we love you,” she declared, “and we wish you all the best.”

Will Young's Strictly departure - costars react

Will Young was on everyone's mind during Saturday's Strictly

Karen and Kevin share their exciting news with Hello!

Claudia and Tess’ public tribute to the star, who has spoken in the past about his struggles with anxiety, followed fellow contestant Ed Balls' comments a few hours earlier, wishing his buddy all the best.

“Everybody was really really disappointed that he withdrew,” Ed told the Radio Times. “But everybody understands that it’s a really really tough, weird environment.

"And if he’s got things going on which I don’t know about at all then you’ve got to respect that.”

Will Young and Karen Clifton on Strictly

Will and Karen both took to Twitter to shut down rumours

As Hello! Online reported previously, Will’s erstwhile dance partner Karen Clifton had also addressed the 37-year-old singer’s departure earlier in the day, taking to Twitter to slam reports that the relationship between them had been strained.

"Shame certain press have to sour what was a great time for me and Will that sadly came to an end,” Karen, 34, tweeted.

Will re-tweeted Karen’s message and later took to Twitter himself to send a message of affection to his former colleagues.

"All my love and luck to contestants tonight,” he wrote, while also revealing he’d been harassed by a photographer earlier in the day.

"The photographer following me in the park who said 'I get PTSD - so thanks so much for talking about it'” Will wrote. “I think slightly was missing the point of hyper vigilance. As he clicked away in my FACE!!!! Hysterical!"

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