David Mitchell leads the outpouring of support after Robert Webb, 49, was forced to quit Strictly

David Mitchell has led the outpouring of public support after his friend Robert Webb pulled out Strictly Come Dancing.  

The comedian, 49, announced his decision on Wednesday night, admitting he had ‘bitten off more than he could chew’, having an ongoing heart condition and two years after undergoing open-heart surgery.  

Prior to the Strictly launch, all contestants were given medical checkups, with Robert also undergoing additional tests with his own team 

However, despite being deemed fit to dance by the doctors at the start of the series, the intensity of the show began to take his toll, and he was forced to quit this week under doctor’s orders. 

Pulled out: David Mitchell led the outpouring of support after Robert Webb (pictured with dance partner Dianne Buswell) was forced to quit Strictly Come Dancing over ill health - two years after undergoing open-heart surgery

Pulled out: David Mitchell led the outpouring of support after Robert Webb (pictured with dance partner Dianne Buswell) was forced to quit Strictly Come Dancing over ill health - two years after undergoing open-heart surgery

Pulled out: David Mitchell led the outpouring of support after Robert Webb (pictured with dance partner Dianne Buswell) was forced to quit Strictly Come Dancing over ill health – two years after undergoing open-heart surgery

Supportive: Robert's pal David Mitchell (pictured in the Strictly audience with wife Victoria) was quick to express his upset but insisted he wouldn't be standing in for Robert

Supportive: Robert's pal David Mitchell (pictured in the Strictly audience with wife Victoria) was quick to express his upset but insisted he wouldn't be standing in for Robert

Supportive: Robert’s pal David Mitchell (pictured in the Strictly audience with wife Victoria) was quick to express his upset but insisted he wouldn’t be standing in for Robert

While fans were left devastated by the announcement, they quickly rushed to social media to share their support, noting that health must always be a priority.  

Taking to Twitter after the announcement, David who was part of a comedy double act with Robert penned: ‘This is sad! They did some really brilliant dancing, I thought. Sorry there won’t be more.’ 

The actor, 47, went on to insist he won’t be taking Robert’s place despite requests from fans, adding: ‘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.’

Despite David ruling himself out, Robert’s dance partner Dianne Buswell, who will also be leaving the competition, cheekily replied: ‘You know I would be more than happy to teach you a tango’. 

Cheeky: David, 47, went on to insist he won't be taking Robert's place despite requests from fans, though Dianne Buswell was quick to offer to teach him a few moves

Cheeky: David, 47, went on to insist he won't be taking Robert's place despite requests from fans, though Dianne Buswell was quick to offer to teach him a few moves

Cheeky: David, 47, went on to insist he won’t be taking Robert’s place despite requests from fans, though Dianne Buswell was quick to offer to teach him a few moves 

Firm friends: David and Robert formed the double act Mitchell and Webb and famously starred together as the hapless Mark and Jeremy in Peep Show (pictured)

Firm friends: David and Robert formed the double act Mitchell and Webb and famously starred together as the hapless Mark and Jeremy in Peep Show (pictured)

Firm friends: David and Robert formed the double act Mitchell and Webb and famously starred together as the hapless Mark and Jeremy in Peep Show (pictured) 

Other fans of Robert’s were quick to share their support, penning: ‘Aw sad. Wishing Robert well and a full recovery. And all the best to Dianne. You were both doing so well!! And you will be very missed.’;

‘Oh no am gutted for Robert but his health is more important right now he’s still recovering from his heart surgery two years on. Sending lots of love glad he sought advice from heart specialist.’; 

‘What a shame. Two years down the line you would think you’re in recovery. But luckily he listened to his body and lives to fight another day. Shame because he seems like a genuine guy. As well as being very funny.’; 

Health first: While fans were left devastated by the announcement, they quickly rushed to social media to share their support, noting that health must always be a priority

Health first: While fans were left devastated by the announcement, they quickly rushed to social media to share their support, noting that health must always be a priority

Health first: While fans were left devastated by the announcement, they quickly rushed to social media to share their support, noting that health must always be a priority

‘Im so sad he is leaving but im happy he left because if he didnt it might have gotten alot worse. My dad had a heart bypass 4 months ago and i know how difficult it is to recover from open heart surgery. Good luck im happy you are not putting yourself at risk anymore. [sic’;

‘So sad to hear this – their Tango in week 2 was a sight to behold! Hope Robert gets well soon and sending love to both him and Dianne.’;

‘I did enjoy Robert and Dianne’s dances. It’s a shame for them both that this has to end. Health must come first. Best wishes to both and I send good wishes to Robert for continuing recovery.’;

‘Good on him for giving it a go, health comes first. Wishing you well Robert. Ignore those negative comments and well done for recognizing your limitations, that might not have ended well.’ 

Brave: Robert's fellow Strictly contestant Greg Wise - who is competing on the show with Karen Hauer - also showed his support for Robert, calling him 'doubly brave'

Brave: Robert's fellow Strictly contestant Greg Wise - who is competing on the show with Karen Hauer - also showed his support for Robert, calling him 'doubly brave'

Brave: Robert’s fellow Strictly contestant Greg Wise – who is competing on the show with Karen Hauer – also showed his support for Robert, calling him ‘doubly brave’

Robert’s fellow Strictly contestant Greg Wise also showed his support for Robert, calling him ‘doubly brave’.

The 55-year-old actor – who is competing on the show with pro partner Karen Hauer – said on Thursday’s episode of Lorraine: ‘I wrote to him yesterday evening when he sent us all this beautiful note.

I said, “Look, mate. You are brave twice. You are so brave to have done this in the first place, and then doubly brave to have said you have to stop now. It takes immense courage.”‘ 

Bowing out: Prior to the Strictly launch, all contestants were given medical checkups, with Robert also undergoing additional tests with his own team

Bowing out: Prior to the Strictly launch, all contestants were given medical checkups, with Robert also undergoing additional tests with his own team

Bowing out: Prior to the Strictly launch, all contestants were given medical checkups, with Robert also undergoing additional tests with his own team

Robert said of the decision: ‘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.’

He went on: ‘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.

Regrets: The comedian, 49, announced his decision on Wednesday night, admitting he had 'bitten off more than he could chew', having an ongoing heart condition

Regrets: The comedian, 49, announced his decision on Wednesday night, admitting he had 'bitten off more than he could chew', having an ongoing heart condition

Regrets: The comedian, 49, announced his decision on Wednesday night, admitting he had ‘bitten off more than he could chew’, having an ongoing heart condition

Robert said of the decision: 'I'm extremely sorry to have to announce that I'm withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health'

Robert said of the decision: 'I'm extremely sorry to have to announce that I'm withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health'

Robert said of the decision: ‘I’m extremely sorry to have to announce that I’m withdrawing from Strictly Come Dancing due to ill health’

‘Thanks too to everyone at home who voted for us. It was always going to be a difficult mountain to climb (for one thing it’s made of glitter so it’s very skiddy) and I’ve been 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.

‘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.’

Dianne added: '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'

Dianne added: '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'

Dianne added: ‘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’

He added: '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'

He added: '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'

He added: ‘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’

Dianne added: ‘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.

Like a duck to water: Diane and Robert impressed as Miss Piggy and Kermit The Frog in one of their dances

Like a duck to water: Diane and Robert impressed as Miss Piggy and Kermit The Frog in one of their dances

Like a duck to water: Diane and Robert impressed as Miss Piggy and Kermit The Frog in one of their dances

‘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.’

Strictly Come Dancing will continue this Saturday with 12 couples taking to the Ballroom floor to impress the judges and the voting public.

Robert spoke recently that he was left barely able to walk last year after the emergency surgery for his congenital heart defect.

The Peep Show star learned the condition was made worse from his ten-year battle with alcohol.

Health: Robert revealed he was left barely able to walk last year after emergency surgery for a congenital heart defect

Health: Robert revealed he was left barely able to walk last year after emergency surgery for a congenital heart defect

Health: Robert revealed he was left barely able to walk last year after emergency surgery for a congenital heart defect

Speaking to The Sun, Robert told how he saw participating in the BBC series as the latest step on his road to recovery.

He said: ‘When I first came out of hospital I could not walk to the end of the street without help. I couldn’t even lift a kettle for four weeks.

‘So gradually you build up again until you are doing longer and longer walks. Then seven months later the walks turn into runs — and then you become a dancer.

‘This was not the first time they asked, and I knew there would be a collision between me and Strictly very likely to happen in the future. But it goes back to the heart surgery — now I think I have got something to offer this show.’

Robert explained he had been feeling poorly for quite a while and went for a check up in March of last year just before lockdown only to discover how serious his condition was.

Robert said: 'When I first came out of hospital I could not walk to the end of the street without help. I couldn't even lift a kettle for four weeks' (pictured in 2018)

Robert said: 'When I first came out of hospital I could not walk to the end of the street without help. I couldn't even lift a kettle for four weeks' (pictured in 2018)

Robert said: ‘When I first came out of hospital I could not walk to the end of the street without help. I couldn’t even lift a kettle for four weeks’ (pictured in 2018)

The actor said his condition is a birth defect with one of his heart valves having prolapsed instead of ‘opening and shutting nicely’.

He said his heart thought he was running up a hill while he was asleep and he never noticed as he simply put his symptoms down to tiredness.

Robert saw a cardiologist who told him he had severe regurgitation and that blood that should have been flowing throughout his body was going ‘backwards’.

The TV star had open heart surgery after the cardiologist said his heart would fail in the next two to three months without it. 

Condition: Robert explained he had been feeling poorly for quite a while and went for a check up in March of last year just before lockdown only to discover how serious his condition was (pictured in 2020)

Condition: Robert explained he had been feeling poorly for quite a while and went for a check up in March of last year just before lockdown only to discover how serious his condition was (pictured in 2020)

Condition: Robert explained he had been feeling poorly for quite a while and went for a check up in March of last year just before lockdown only to discover how serious his condition was (pictured in 2020)

Robert said the surgery motivated him to change his lifestyle, starting with ditching alcohol.

The actor admitted he feels he had been slowly killing himself through drinking and had increased his consumption to the point where he felt he was addicted.      

Robert started running and also took up weight-training, meaning he was fitter than ever when he got the call for Strictly. 

Still, training with his professional partner Dianne didn’t come easy and he has described rehearsals as a lot of hard work, often working from 8am to 6pm.

STRICTLY COME DANCING 2021: WHO ARE THE COUPLES?

TOM FLETCHER & AMY DOWDEN

Celebrity’s Age: 36

Profession: McFly musician

Tom says: ‘I’m so pleased the news is out it’s been so hard keeping it secret. Equal parts excited and terrified.’

Fun fact: Tom’s McFly bandmate Harry Judd won Strictly Come Dancing in 2011. Tom’s wife Giovanna Fletcher is the reigning champion of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

ROBERT WEBB & DIANNE BUSWELL

 Celebrity’s Age: 48

Profession: Actor and comedian

Robert says: ‘It’s very exciting but with a slight undertone of quivering terror.’

Fun Fact: Robert squeezed into a shiny leotard to take the title of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief in 2009, performing What A Feeling from ’80s film Flashdance, beating the likes of Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness to the title. 

RHYS STEPHENSON & NANCY XU  

Celebrity’s Age: 27

Profession: CBBC presenter  

Rhys says: ‘I have dreamt about being on this show, and I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation’

Fun fact: Rhys has been an actor since the age of ten, performing alongside Matt Smith and Hugh Bonneville. 

KATIE MCGLYNN & GORKA MARQUEZ

 Celebrity’s Age: 28

Profession: Actress

Katie says: ‘I’m really not a dancer, but I’m so excited to learn a new skill on this crazy journey and cannot wait to slip into some sequins along the way.’

Fun fact: Katie, who played Sinead Tinker in Corrie, won a NTA for Best Serial Drama Performance in 2020. 

TILLY RAMSAY & NIKITA KUZMIN

Celebrity’s Age: 19

Profession: CBBC presenter

Tilly says: ’I’m going to put my heart and soul into this and can’t wait to get my dancing shoes on!’

Fun fact: Tilly’s father is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the pair often star in dancing TikTok videos.

NINA WADIA & NEIL JONES  

Celebrity’s Age: 52

Profession: Actress

Nina says: ‘I think I should do this before I’m too old and can’t walk anymore. I just want to grab life by the horns and just enjoy it.’

Fun fact: Nina is a JDRF Ambassador and was awarded an OBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List. 

ADAM PEATY & KATYA JONES

Celebrity’s Age: 26

Profession: Athlete 

Adam says: ‘I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool.’

Fun fact: Adam becoming the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

UGO MONYE & OTI MABUSE

 

Celebrity’s Age: 38

Profession: Rugby player and sports pundit

Ugo says: ‘What a dream come true! Strictly is the biggest entertainment show on TV and I can’t wait to show everyone I’ve got more than just dad dancing moves.

Fun fact: Beginning his rugby career at Harlequins in 2002, Ugo went on to make 241 appearances for the club where he scored 89 tries, won a Premiership and made his England debut in 2008.

 

AJ ODUDU & KAI WIDDRINGTON

Celebrity’s Age: 33

Profession: TV presenter

 AJ says: ‘I think it’s going to be really challenging. I can’t wait for the sequins, the wigs, the glitz and the glamour.’

Fun Fact: Apocalypse Wow hosts AJ has featured on a whopping 14 TV shows this year, competing in the likes oF Cooking With The Stars and Celebrity Karaoke Club. She has appeared as a panelist on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two in the past, too.

JOHN WHAITE & JOHANNES RADEBE

Celebrity’s Age: 33

Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef

 John says: ‘I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family… I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth’

Fun Fact: The duo are the first ever all-male partnering – the first in 17 years of the show.

SARA DAVIES & ALJAZ SKORJANEC

Celebrity’s Age: 37  

Profession:  Businesswoman

Sara says: ‘I’m really nervous because so far the producers keep asking me if I can dance… Truth be told – I haven’t got a clue! I’ve not danced since I did ballet lessons when I was little.’

Fun fact: Sara was the youngest ever dragon on BBC show Dragons’ Den.

DAN WALKER & NADIYA BYCHKOVA

Celebrity’s Age: 44 

Profession: Journalist

Dan says: ‘I’m enjoying the experience when it starts of learning to dance. I’ll be honest I’m not making room on any shelves in my house for the glitterball.’

Fun fact: Dan recently quit Football Focus after 12 years at the helm and has been covering Tokyo Olympics.

 GREG WISE & KAREN HAUER

Celebrity’s Age: 55

Profession: Actor

Greg says: ‘It’s about being out there and exposing yourself as someone who can’t dance, and learning.’

Fun fact: Greg is married to the actress Emma Thompson who he met while filming Sense and Sensibility.  

ROSE AYLING-ELLIS & GIOVANNI PERNICE

Celebrity’s Age: 30

Profession: Actress

Rose says: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill.’

 Fun fact: Rose will make history as Strictly’s first deaf contestant. 

 JUDI LOVE & GRAZIANO DI PRIMA

Celebrity’s Age: 41

Profession: Comedienne 

Judi says: ‘I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!’

Fun fact: Judi began comedy when she performed a set in front of her class for a degree module.

 

 

 

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