The comedian, 49, withdrew from Strictly after seeking an ‘urgent consolidation’ with the specialist overseeing his recovery from heart surgery.
‘It is an absolutely weird show’: Robert Webb has called Strictly Come Dancing ‘brutal’ and ‘weird’ after quitting the competition (pictured with hispartner Dianne Buswell on the show)
Looking back on his time in the competition, Robert said: ‘It is not like it is an unpleasant environment, but they are long days and it is a long time to be nice.’
The Peep Show star admitted he was often worried about being ‘cancelled’ if he said the wrong thing while cameras were watching him ‘all the time’.
Robert added he was often on the brink of tears while learning the intense routines and struggled to learn the choreography in time for that week’s live show.
He said: ‘If we had longer to rehearse it would happen, but we get four days and one performance… At the end of that performance you might get fired. It is brutal. It is an absolutely weird show.’
Struggling: The comedian withdrew from Strictly after seeking an ‘urgent consolidation’ with the specialist overseeing his recovery from heart surgery
Robert announced his decision to bow out 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.
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.
Bowing out: Robert announced his decision to quit the show on Wednesday night
‘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: He admitted he had ‘bitten off more than he could chew’, having an ongoing heart condition
Candid: 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.’
Gracious: Dianne added, ‘As a massive fan of Robert’s I was delighted to find out that he was joining the Strictly family. To find out he was my partner was the icing on the cake’
Tragic: 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.
Sizzling! The pair had impressed with their dances so far
‘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.
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.
Health: Robert revealed he was left barely able to walk last year after emergency surgery for a congenital heart defect
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.