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Amanda Abbington shares statement on mysterious Strictly exit

‘Sherlock’ star was partnered with pro dancer Giovanni Pernice

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 24 October 2023 11:19 BST
Moment Amanda Abbington's Strictly exit announced by Fleur East

Amanda Abbington has said it is with the “deepest regret” that she has left Strictly Come Dancing for “personal reasons”.

It was announced on Monday (23 October) that the Sherlock star has withdrawn from the BBC competition just five weeks in.

Posting a statement on Instagram, Abbington, 49, wrote: “It is with deepest regret that I had to leave Strictly. I did not come to this decision easily or lightly but for personal reasons I am unable to continue.

“It was an absolute joy working with my fellow contestants, they are a beautiful, hardworking and talented group of people who I love and who I will miss seeing every Friday and Saturday and competing alongside.”

She went on to thank the production team and “everyone on Strictly who looked after me and who are so kind and caring”.

Abbington added: “I’m so sad that I am unable to go any further. Thank you to everyone who voted and who sent wonderful messages and inspiring support. You are all amazing. Truly. Thank you. xxx.”

In a supportive comment, pro dancer Jowita Przystal wrote: “Take care darling we will miss you! Sending lots of love.” Fellow pro Karen Hauer added: “Love you.”

Channel 4 news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who is also competing on the show, posted: “Sending lots of love – we miss you xxx.”

Abbington had been scoring well on Strictly, and had been partnered with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice. The pair scored 31 for a quick-footed foxtrot the last time she appeared on the show.

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Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice on ‘Strictly’ (BBC)

She did not mention Pernice at all in her post, but earlier, he had shared a message of support for the actor on his Instagram, writing: “Amanda … I am so sad we can’t continue but I am proud of what we achieved and I am sending you so much love.”

After missing last Saturday’s show (21 October) for “medical reasons”, Abbington had shared a quote from actor Robin Williams about mental health, writing: “People don’t fake depression... they fake being OK. Remember that. Be kind.”

Abbington is best known for playing Mary Watson in the Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman series Sherlock. In the lead-up to Strictly, she found herself at the centre of controversy due to a resurfaced tweet about a baby sensory and cabaret show aimed at parents and their infants aged two and under.

When the controversy reared its head again in response to her Strictly casting, Abbington posted a video addressing her critics, saying: “I’m sorry if my tweet about drag shows made you feel like you can’t watch Strictly. And I think if you got to know me, you’d quite like me.

“I need to make this very clear,” she added. “I love drag. I think it’s an amazing form of entertainment and I f***ing love drag queens. I think they’re hilarious and brilliant...”

She continued: “But my tweet back in March was regarding a 12-year-old who was doing it in front of adults. And it just upset me because I saw a kid, a little kid, a 12-year-old, doing something very oversexualised and I didn’t think it was right.

“That was my tweet. I didn’t associate that with the trans community, nor would I associate that with the trans community, because I think they’re two separate things. And I’m not transphobic... I am a firm supporter of the legitimate trans community.”

Abbington had tweeted that the show was “not for babies”, saying: “If you think it is, there is something fundamentally wrong with you.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday 28 October at 6.40pm on BBC One.

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