Strictly Come Dancing is in crisis after five of its professional dancers will reportedly perform on tonight's show (Saturday 22 October) with a winter virus. Bosses described the bug as "horrendous" and admitted the quality of the show could be put at risk as a consequence.
Brendan Cole, 40, is already sidelined after he was treated in hospital for a lung infection and will be replaced by 26-year-old Gorka Marquez until he recovers.
A source told The Sun: "Preparations for this weekend have been hampered by this horrendous virus sweeping through the pros.
"Poor Brendan is gutted not to be able to dance with Anastacia, but he has to listen to his body as a lung infection is no laughing matter. He's on doctor's orders."
In a statement posted on his website, Cole wrote: "I am to continue resting for a couple more days in the hope I am fighting fit ready for Monday to gear up for next week's Halloween show (my favourite of the series).
"I am obviously very disappointed to miss this weekend, but think it wise to rest a little more and hopefully come back ready for next week and in full health."
The fleet-footed showman further tweeted to reassure fans that he not in fact died as some hoax news stories had suggested.
But now Ed Balls' dance partner Katya Jones is also experiencing flu-like symptoms alongside fellow instructors Janette Manrara, Neil Jones, Aljaz Skorjanec and Anton du Beke.
The Sun's source added "producers are now concerned some of the other pros could be following in his footsteps. They have to rehearse and dance very intimately. And at the moment they are dropping like flies."
A particular concern is that Ed Balls contracts Katya's illness that has left her needing to take numerous breaks during training and hardly able to speak when appearing on Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two on Thursday.
"Ed has been a real hit with the nation and is hoping he can stay in the show at least another couple of weeks," admitted the insider.
"He really credits Katya for choreographing amazing, comical routines for them and fears that if she isn't feeling her best their standard could slip dramatically."
However, the BBC have now confirmed that Cole will be the only dancer not featured this evening.