Inside Robert Webb’s open-heart surgery which ended Strictly Come Dancing stint

Robert Webb has been forced to withdraw from Strictly Come Dancing on medical grounds.

The Peep Show star announced his departure via a statement on Wednesday after seeking medical advice due to recurring symptoms of a condition that could have killed him.

Robert, 49, had life-saving surgery two years ago when he discovered he had a heart murmur after a routine medical check.

He was diagnosed with a mitral valve prolapse and had to undergo the operation to prevent him from having a heart attack.

The actor – who admits he had treated his body "like a skip" – said he was clueless about the condition and just thought he felt tired all the time because of his elaborate consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.

He previously told The Sunday Times: "I didn't realise how unwell I was. I had no idea. The drinking crawled up so gradually that I was slow-killing myself.

"It was certainly an addiction at the end, a dependency. I drank a lot of beer, during the day, on my own."

Robert also confessed that in the build-up to his surgery he felt so unwell he was "literally just walking around trying not to have a heart attack".

He added: "I think part of my subconscious must have been aware that my heart was having to do really, really weird things to keep the show on the road."

Things didn't go smoothly in the November 2019 operation either. During the procedure, he lost two-thirds of his blood cells.

He recalled how the "touch and go" moment led to a conversation where his cardiologist told the surgeon: "You can't send him home for five days, he isn't going to last two days."

Since the ordeal Robert gave up smoking and alcohol and began limiting his time on social media due to being left feeling "fragile."

Despite performing well on Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing movie week show alongside professional dance partner Diane Buswell as Kermit and Miss Piggy, Robert has now had to withdraw himself as a contestant due to the strenuous training and performance regimes putting a strain on his heart.

A statement from Robert said: “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 continued: "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.

And Robert gave his fellow heart condition sufferers a mention as he signed off from the show.

He added: "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.”

Strictly Come Dancing will continue this Saturday night at 7pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

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