The stars of Strictly Come Dancing have shared their shock and sadness at the sudden departure of Katya Jones and Nicola Adams from the competition.
The duo, who just weeks ago made history as they became the first same-sex pairing on the popular BBC One show, have been forced to exit the series after professional dancer Jones received a positive Covid-19 test result.
The show’s host Claudia Winkleman said she is “so sad” they are leaving the programme.
She tweeted: “We’re so sad about this. Nicola and Katya were completely brilliant.”
Head judge Shirley Ballas said she was “absolutely gutted” that Adams has exited the competition.
She told talkRADIO: “I’m absolutely gutted, you know it’s historic and this partnership, it was doing so well.
“They were certainly going to go far in my estimation. It was a just a fantastic team and partnership and they brought light every week.”
Zoe Ball, the co-host of Strictly spin-off It Takes Two, said she was “gutted” for the pair.
In a tweet she said: “Gutted for Nicola and Katya. You made history girls. Sending them both all the love”.
Former home secretary Jacqui Smith, who was the first Strictly Come Dancing contestant eliminated this year, tweeted: “So sad for lovely @NicolaAdamsOBE and @Mrs_katjones but they’ve already lit up our screens and broken amazing new ground and are winners!”
Former Strictly contestant and GMB presenter Susanna Reid tweeted: “This is such a shame for Nicola and Katya – and for the whole show too. Get well soon Katya”.
West End star Beverley Knight simply tweeted: “NOOOO!”.
Jones, who won the series in 2017 alongside Joe McFadden, shared her own sadness in a long post on social media.
She said Adams was her hero in a post on Instagram.
Former Strictly contestant and singer Alexandra Burke replied in the comments, saying: “I’m gutted for you both !!”.
Strictly judge Motsi Mabuse posted two red heart emojis, while EastEnders star Emma Barton, who was on Strictly last year, wrote: “Darling girl.. I’m so sorry for you both… Look after yourself.. “.
Sports star Adams said on Twitter she was “gutted” to be leaving the series so soon.
Former Bake Off contestant Michael Chakraverty replied to say: “you were so brilliant, and will have changed so many lives”.
And former Strictly judge Arlene Phillips told Times Radio: “(Katya) always delivers and Nicola was not fantastic last week, but she’s a little fireball. And so you find when you’re watching that you’re really excited by watching them.
“She’s (Adams) such fun and this whole personality that, you know, that comes out of her. And it’s really disappointing. I’m so surprised because they’ve all been in their bubbles. Everyone is, you know, kind of hiding away.
“For this to happen, I think it was the last thing that anyone expected. I just thought they’re all safe and this show is gonna be really something. There’s something that draws you to it kind of more than ever, I think.”
Fellow celebrity contestant and GMB presenter Ranvir Singh praised the pair for “breaking barriers”.
She said: “So gutted – but could not be prouder to be in the same show as these two – breaking barriers and being beautiful.”
Speaking on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two, fellow contestant and soap star Maisie Smith said: “It’s actually so sad. I hear Katya and Nicola from my dressing room every single Saturday so it’s going to be weird not just not hearing anything.”
Her professional partner Gorka Marquez added: “It’s sad because the whole team has put in so much effort. All of us have been taking so much care.
“But the virus is out there. Anyone can get it. It’s sad and they were doing such a brilliant job.
“Katya was so excited to be dancing with Nicola and they are just going to be missed.”
The BBC said the show will continue this Saturday night on BBC One.