Robert Webb has withdrawn from Strictly Come Dancing after developing symptoms from a congenital heart condition.

The 49-year-old comedy actor and writer said he realised he had “bitten off way more I could chew", two years after undergoing open heart surgery.

His dancing partner Diane Buswell will also leave the show.

The Peep Show star was diagnosed with a mitral valve prolapse in 2019 and told his heart could fail in a matter of months or years.

On the morning of the operation, the cardiologist warned against plans to push it back, insisting: “You can’t send him home for five days, he isn’t going to last two days.”

Webb, who is married with two children, said he was  “extremely sorry” to leave the BBC show. 

He said: “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.

"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. 

“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.

“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.”

The mitral valve is a small flap in the heart that stops blood flowing the wrong way. 

Problems with it can affect how blood flows around the body.

Sarah James, Strictly Come Dancing Executive Producer, said: “Although we are so sad that Robert has withdrawn from the show we completely understand and support his decision, health always comes first."