Jason Donovan has become the latest contestant to be forced to pull out of Dancing on Ice, after the singer and actor failed to shake off back pain.
The Australian star said doctors had advised him not to carry on because of his “ongoing back issue”.
Donovan said: “It’s a nightmare and I’m completely gutted.”
He is the fifth celebrity to withdraw. Denise van Outen and Billie Shepherd also got injured, while Rufus Hound and Joe-Warren Platt caught Covid-19.
Meanwhile, professional skater Hamish Gaman, who had partnered soap actress Faye Brookes, was replaced last week after injuring a finger while putting on a sock.
ITV cancelled the live show on Sunday but said the contest would resume this weekend with five remaining celebrities – Brookes, Rebekah Vardy, Lady Leshurr, Colin Jackson and Sonny Jay.
Announcing his departure in a video, Donovan told fans:
“I am devastated to announce that due to this ongoing back issue that occurred on Dancing on Ice about 10 days ago, and at the advice of my medical team in the show, that unfortunately I can’t continue in the competition and therefore have to withdraw. We put so much work into getting to this point, but I have to respect my health and I have to respect my body moving forward. That is my biggest priority.”
He thanked his professional skating partner Schauman, saying: “She’s believed in me when at times I didn’t even believe in myself.”
He ended with a message to the show’s surviving participants: “Please stay safe, stay healthy and take lots of care.”
Donovan missed the last live program on 14 February but has not recovered enough to go back on the ice. ITV said his back problem was not caused by any injury while training.
A spokeswoman said Donovan had “brought us so much joy with his performances on Dancing On Ice”. She added:
“Our thanks go to Jason and his partner Alex for being so wonderful and committed to the series. We’re sorry to see them leave and we wish Jason a speedy recovery.”
Dancing On Ice is not alone in having to deal with disruption to its schedule in recent months.
Most recently, Britain’s Got Talent was postponed until next year due to concerns around safety during the pandemic.
Producers said it would be difficult for acts like dance groups, choirs and orchestras to rehearse and audition safely.
It followed a delay in filming its Christmas special after at least three crew members tested positive for coronavirus.
ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! relocated from the Australian jungle to a derelict castle in north Wales because of the pandemic.
On the BBC, Strictly Come Dancing was also hit when former boxer Nicola Adams and her Strictly Come Dancing partner Katya Jones left the contest after Jones tested positive.
Bruno Tonioli could not be with his fellow judges because he couldn’t fly back and forth between the UK and the US, where he was appearing on Dancing with the Stars. And Motsi Mabuse had to self-isolate for two weeks after an “urgent” trip abroad.
In January, filming on ITV soap Emmerdale was suspended for a week after a number of positive tests among those working on the show.
And fellow soap Coronation Street paused production for two weeks to allow its writers to change its then-future storylines and scripts to ensure it was feasible to film them within current restrictions.
Both shows have however been able to continue screening six episodes a week.