Strictly Come Dancing: 11 Contestants Who Were Forced To Hang Up Their Dance Shoes Early

Amanda Abbington has just quit the 2023 series due to "personal reasons".
Amanda Abbington
Amanda Abbington
BBC/Ray Burmiston

Amanda Abbington has pulled out of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing after five weeks, due to “personal reasons”.

The former Sherlock actor expressed her “deepest regret” at having to leave the show, admitting it was not a decision she came to “easily or lightly” in a statement she posted on social media.

However, Amanda is far from the first Strictly contestant to leave the show early. Rare as it might be, there are actually 10 more stars who’ve had to hang up their dancing shoes over the years...

Nicola Adams


In 2020, Nicola Adams made history as one half of Strictly’s first ever same-sex partnership.

Unfortunately, her time on the show also fell in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, and after just a few short weeks in the competition, her partner Katya Jones contracted Covid-19, meaning they both had to step down.

Fortunately, they were later given one last moment to shine, performing a brand new routine in that year’s Strictly final.

John Sergeant

John Sergeant on Strictly Come Dancing
John Sergeant on Strictly Come Dancing

John Sergeant’s hilarious routines became a thing of Strictly legend when he competed on the 2008 series alongside partner Kristina Rihanoff.

But while he might not have been blessed in the dance department, the British public kept saving him from elimination week after week – much to the despair of the judges.

Arlene Phillips even said that if he walked away with the Glitterball, it would leave her feeling “desolate”.

When he made it through to week 10 of the competition, the BBC News journalist took matters into his own hands and withdrew, fearing that he may actually win the whole series, which he claimed would have been “a joke too far”.

John called his Strictly experience “a wonderfully enjoyable thing”, but added: “If the joke wears thin, if in fact people begin to take it very seriously, and if people really are getting so wound up that it’s very difficult to carry off the joke, then I think it is time to go.

“It’s like when you decide when you leave a party, and the time to leave a party is before the fight starts, and I think that’s really what’s happened on this occasion.”

He also returned to the ballroom for a farewell dance that week.

Kelly Brook


Kelly Brook had been an early favourite on the 2007 series, but she cut short her Strictly experience when her father died eight weeks into the competition, following a long battle with cancer.

She had originally intended to continue rehearsals in her dad’s memory, but found it “too difficult”, and ended up pulling out ahead of the competition.

A spokesperson said at the time: “Kelly has been a fantastic part of the programme and will be sorely missed by everyone on the show.”

Will Young


Original Pop Idol winner Will Young withdrew three weeks into the competition in 2016.

At the time, he cited “personal reasons” for leaving abruptly, later disclosing that his mental health was suffering while taking part in Strictly.

“I was really ill. I was dragging myself to rehearsals. I just couldn’t do it any more,” Will told Bryony Gordon’s Mad World podcast. “It was so bad I thought – I’m not joking – I thought about breaking my leg.

“I decided to take on Strictly because I bloody love dancing. And I bloody hated it [in the end], because I was so ill.”

Jimmy Tarbuck


Comic Jimmy Tarbuck was forced to drop out of the fourth series of Strictly in 2006 on doctor’s orders.

Having made it through to the second week of the competition with partner Flavia Cacace, he was “devastated” when ill health meant he had to hang up his dance shoes.

He said at the time: “I would like to thank my wonderful partner Flavia who has taught me so much and been patient in trying to turn this old cart-horse into a proper dancer. I will really miss training with her.”

Jade Johnson


Former Olympic long jumper Jade Johnson’s time on the show was cut short after she suffered an injury to her knee when it “popped” during training.

The athlete was left in tears when she was forced to sit out week nine of the competition, and told host Tess Daly: “It’s very emotional. Just sitting here is really hard for me. The knee is quite sore.”

After being given a bye allowing her through to the following week, Jade had still hoped to dance, but was forced to withdraw completely when BBC doctors advised her not to risk further injury.

Jade was later quoted as saying that Strictly had damaged her chances at the London 2012 Olympics.

“Strictly has cost me my place in the ­Olympics. I thought the show injury had healed and I was ready to compete,” she said. “Sadly it flared up just before the trials and made it ­impossible to get through them.”

Jamie Laing

Jamie Laing was forced to quit Strictly Come Dancing due to injury
Jamie Laing was forced to quit Strictly Come Dancing due to injury

Jamie Laing’s Strictly dream looked to be over before it had really even begun, after the Made In Chlesea star was forced to withdraw from the competition due to injury in 2019.

He pulled out after hurting his foot while filming a group number for the pre-recorded launch show.

Kelvin Fletcher was later brought in in his place, teaming up with Jamie’s dance partner Oti Mabuse, with the couple eventually going on to win the series.

However, there was a happy ending for Jamie eventually, as he was invited to return for the 2020 series, where he was paired up with Karen Hauer and made it all the way to the final.

Will Bayley


Just six weeks into the 2019 series, disaster struck again when Paralympian Will Bayley acquired a knee injury while rehearsing for the show.

He was initially given a one-week bye in the hope he would recover and be able to return to the competition the following week.

However, when his knee failed to get better in time, Will was forced to withdraw.

Will said he was “gutted” at having to bow out early, explaining: “I’ve loved being part of the show and am so grateful for the phenomenal support we have received.

“I want to say a special thank you to Janette [Manrara, his professional partner], for believing in me, and giving me the confidence to believe in myself. The things we achieved, from our Couple’s Choice dance, through to our lifts in our Salsa, will stay with me forever. I’ve had the time of my life.”

He later returned to the ballroom during the final as part of a group routine.

AJ Odudu

AJ Odudu
AJ Odudu
Ray Burmiston/BBC

AJ was devastatingly forced to pull out of the 2021 series just days before the final after suffering an injury to her foot.

The TV presenter said she was “deeply upset” to have to withdraw from the final, where she was due to battle it out for the Glitterball with Rose Ayling-Ellis and John Whaite, but was unable to dance due to a torn ligament in her right ankle.

AJ and her partner Kai Widdrington did make an appearance at the final, however, where they joined host Claudia Winkleman for an emotional chat reflecting on their time in the competition.

Robert Webb

Robert Webb
Robert Webb
Ray Burmiston/BBC

Robert Webb’s Strictly journey was also cut short earlier in the 2021 series after the Peep Show actor was advised to leave the competition for medical reasons.

In a statement, Robert – who had been paired with professional dancer Dianne Buswell – explained: “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 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.”

Robert later declined the invitation to return for the series finale, but insisted he had “no bad feeling towards the show”.


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