Ankle injury forces Laura Whitmore to drop out of Strictly at the last minute

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Strictly Come Dancing contestant Laura Whitmore has said she is "absolutely devastated" that she will not be performing on the show tonight because of an ankle injury.

The TV host, who survived the dance off last week, said she did not want to sit out the competition and would be dancing if she had her way.

She wrote on Twitter: "Absolutely devastated. It was a decision taken out of my hands. If it was my choice, I'd be on the dance floor doing my jive with Gio.

Laura has been working hard on her dance floor moves.
Laura has been working hard on her dance floor moves (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

"This was by far my favourite dance. We all train really hard. All of us dancing have aches and pains and I didn't realise the severity of my injury until it was too late. I'm sorry to let you all down.

"My priority is to follow the doctors' instructions to get myself on my feet again without permanent damage and do the thing I love the most, dancing!

"Thanks to all my fellow contestants for the support they have given me in the last 24 hours."

A spokeswoman for the show said: "Laura Whitmore will not perform on tonight's Strictly Come Dancing due to an ankle injury sustained earlier in the week.

Laura has been all smiles on Strictly.
Laura has been all smiles on Strictly (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

"She has been checked by a doctor and the medical team on site and they have advised that she rests her ankle and does not dance this weekend.

"As per the rules of Strictly Come Dancing - because Laura and Giovanni cannot dance on tonight's show - they will receive a bye through to next week and the show will continue with a public vote as per usual.

"We wish Laura a very speedy recovery."

On Thursday Laura, who is partnered with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, wrote on Twitter: "Today is not a good day. Positive thoughts."

And earlier in the week she shared a picture of her partner "having to carry her around".

It has already been announced that professional dancer Brendan Cole will be missing from Saturday's show due to illness.

Brendan, who is partnered with Anastacia, has been suffering with a lung infection and missed rehearsals this week after being admitted to hospital.

Anastacia will dance instead with Gorka Marquez, who has been working with the singer on the routine, a quickstep to Frank Sinatra's My Kind Of Town.

The BBC dismissed reports that other professional dancers were affected by a virus although it confirmed Katya Jones had lost her her voice, which is said to be on the mend.

Her husband and fellow professional, Neil Jones, denied he was ill on Twitter, saying: "I might be very very pale but trust me I'm not ill at all."

Neil looks right as rain!
Neil looks right as rain! (Rick Findler/PA)

The show said Brendan was sitting out on doctor's orders.

A statement said: "Brendan Cole is recovering from a lung infection and he has been advised to rest and will not be dancing this weekend as per doctor's orders.

"Gorka Marquez stepped in at the start of the week to rehearse with Anastacia and they will dance together on the show this weekend.

"We wish Brendan a speedy recovery."

Gorka was previously partnered with Tameka Empson.
Gorka was previously partnered with Tameka Empson (Ian West/PA)

The New Zealand-born dancer took himself to hospital hours before performing on last week's show after coming down with a bad cough, which he feared was a recurrence of the pneumonia he suffered earlier in the year.

Following his late night at the hospital, Brendan appeared on the show and successfully danced a rumba as planned, making it through to another week in the competition.

Viewers of Saturday night's show will be given a glimpse of a bronzed-up Ed Balls after the former Labour MP underwent a spray tan on Friday afternoon.

It has been a busy week for Ed and Katya both on and off the dance floor.
It has been a busy week for Ed and Katya both on and off the dance floor (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The ex-shadow chancellor called the experience the weirdest thing he had done since getting a "naked Balinese massage" on his honeymoon.

Ed, who last week scored a series low of 16, will dance the American smooth to (Is This The Way To) Amarillo by Tony Christie with partner Katya.

Meanwhile sports presenter Ore Oduba and partner Joanne Clifton will be dancing waltz to the Claudia Streza version of I Will Always Love You after their almost perfect 39 last week.