Strictly Come Dancing fans have been left devastated by the news that comedian Robert Webb has withdrawn from the series due to ill health.
MORE: Dianne Buswell speaks out as partner Robert Webb quits Strictly
The Peep Show star was advised by a doctor to quit the BBC One celebrity dancing competition, "for the sake of [his] health", following an open heart surgery operation back in November 2019.
WATCH: Dianne Buswell surprises Robert Webb with incredible Strictly-inspired birthday cake
Robert, who was partnered with professional dancer Dianne Buswell, discovered he had a congenital heart defect during a routine medical check-up on the set of his Channel 4 comedy, Back.
MORE: Robert Webb reveals how he told David Mitchell he'd signed up for Strictly – and it might surprise you
MORE: Joe Sugg breaks silence following Dianne Buswell and Robert Webb's sad exit from Strictly
Speaking to NME earlier this year, he opened up about the terrifying moment. "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," he said, adding that the doctors told him he required urgent open-heart surgery.
"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," he explained.
Robert was partnered with professional dancer Dianne Buswell on the show
Thankfully the operation was a success, but the 49-year-old actor was forced to give up alcohol and cigarettes as a result. This month, he celebrates his second year being completely sober. Taking to Twitter to mark his first year of his sobriety in 2020, he explained that he had become much healthier as a result. Referencing a Peep Show gag, he said: "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!"
Robert announced that he was sadly pulling out of Strictly on Wednesday evening. He said in a statement that he believed he was "fit enough to take on Strictly and its demanding schedule" but had realised that he had "bitten off way more than I could chew for this stage in my recovery."
The comedian and actor underwent open-heart surgery in November 2019
"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.
MORE: Strictly's Johannes Radebe reveals sad reason behind social media silence in emotional post
"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," he continued. "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, adding that he was "especially touched by the support from fellow heart patients" and concluded his statement: "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."
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.