Nigel Harman dramatically quits Strictly Come Dancing just hours before live show

Strictly Come Dancing was plunged into chaos after series favourite Nigel Harman quit the series just hours before he was due to perform.

The BBC has announced that the Casualty and ex-EastEnders actor, 50, has withdrawn from the competition, alongside professional partner Katya Jones, on medical grounds hours before Saturday’s live show (2 December).

There will be no elimination during this week’s Musicals Week special, with the remaining celebrities automatically making it through to the semi-final.

A spokesperson told The Independent: “Unfortunately Nigel has sustained an injury which means he is unable to perform in tonight’s show and has had to withdraw from Strictly.”

Hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman announced a back-up plan for Sunday night’s results show (3 December) at the start of the latest episode.

It seems the injury was sustained early Saturday afternoon as Jones posted an Instagram Story, showing a preview of tonight’s episode, at approximately 11am GMT.

The image included Harman’s name, and Jones captioned it: “Here we goooo!!”

Just one day earlier, on Friday (1 December), Harman described his fitness as “really quite good” while speaking to The Independent about his Musicals Week routine.

He said: “I’m quite tired but I feel like I’m feeling quite fresh in some ways. I know that’s a paradox. I’m quite a little bit proud of myself to be 50 still be leaping around out there, so that’s quite good.”

A source told The Sun: “He and Katya were really disappointed as they were hoping to stay in the competition.

Nigel Harman and Katya Jones on ‘Strictly’ (Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One)
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones on ‘Strictly’ (Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One)

“They hadn’t been in the bottom two so had a real chance of making it to the finals. Nigel has been training really hard and really threw himself into rehearsals.”

Harman was one of the favourites to win this year’s series. This week, he thanked the public for their “overwhelming” support after he was saved from the dreaded dance off despite being near the bottom of the leaderboard.

He said on Strictly companion show It Takes Two earlier this week: “It’s kind of a bit overwhelming that people are sitting there voting for us.”

The remaining celebrities in the competition are EastEnders actor Bobby Brazier, ex-Coronation Street star Ellie Leach, former tennis player Annabel Croft and musical theatre performer Layton Williams.

Harman was not the first celebrity to quit this year’s Strictly. Just weeks into the 2023 show, Sherlock actor Amanda Abbington, who was paired with Giovanni Pernice, withdrew from the competition.

Nigel Harman explains why he quit ‘Strictly’ (BBC)
Nigel Harman explains why he quit ‘Strictly’ (BBC)

No reason was given, but the BBC said in a statement: “Amanda Abbington is unable to continue in Strictly Come Dancing and has decided to withdraw from the competition. The show wishes her all the best for the future.”

During Saturday’s quarter-final episode, the first perfect score of “40” was given as judge Craig Revel Horwood finally used his “10” paddle after a stern warning from Winkleman.

Find the status of this week’s leaderboard here.

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC one at 7.20pm on Sunday (3 December).