Robert Webb

Robert Webb opens up about life-changing news he received on set of Channel 4 sitcom

The actor says that the show saved his life

Eve Crosbie

As Channel 4 sitcom Back returns to screens for its much-anticipated second series, Robert Webb has opened up about the life-saving diagnosis he has the show to thank for.

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Speaking to NME, the actor who plays Andrew opposite his long-term collaborator David Mitchell in the show, revealed that he discovered he had a congenital heart defect during a routine medical check-up prior to filming the new season.

"It turned out I was incredibly unwell. I knew something was up, but I didn't realise that my heart was on its last legs," Robert said, adding that the doctors told him he required urgent open-heart surgery.

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"The mitral valve had prolapsed and was flapping about uselessly, and the heart had grown and remodelled to desperately keep the show on the road. The cardiologist said that in two to six months the heart was going to fail."

Thankfully the operation was a success, but the 48-year-old actor was forced to give up alcohol and cigarettes as a result. In October, he celebrated his first year sober and took to Twitter to share the good news, explaining that he gave up "cigarettes and alcohol, both of which I found really very moreish." 

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Referencing a Peep Show gag, he added: "I am yet to run to Windsor in one go but I have covered an equivalent distance in lots of goes. Happy Soberversary to me!"

Discussing going sober with NME, Robert joked: "It's been a great year to stop drinking because all the pubs are closed," but added that he has been enjoying having a quiet life.

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Robert Webb says he owes his life to the diagnosis during a routine check-up on the set of Back

"The heart condition was not lifestyle based, it's just a birth defect, it's congenital. But once you've been in hospital – which is not a pleasant experience at the best of times, and it's not the best of times, it's the worst of times – I came out with a newfound respect for my internal organs.

"I'm going: 'It's my liver, it's my lungs, these are my guys, let's look after them a bit better!' So I gave up drinking and smoking and I do lots of exercise now and I feel literally younger."

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