Following the success of the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the second season of the program was commissioned even before the first hit the airwaves.
However, production scheduled to begin in March was halted due to the tragic news that its star, Welsh-born Australian Andy Whitfield, 33, was diagnosed with cancer.
Starz, the host channel in the US, had produced a "prequel" series in the interim period to keep fans happy called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which focused on Whitfield’s co-stars John Hannah and Lucy Lawless.
Production of season two was expected to recommence this October, with Whitfield fully recuperated and back in his role following an "all clear" by doctors in May.
Unfortunately, Whitfield's illness has recurred, which has forced him to leave the title role entirely.
Aside from the personal tragedy, the entire future of Spartacus: Blood and Sand has now been thrown into doubt, after being warmly received by critics and viewers alike, and millions of dollars injected into the series by New Zealand's film and television industries.
"It's with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved," Whitfield said of his decision.
Starz CEO, Chris Albrecht, said, "Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time. Andy is not only an incredible actor whose portrayal of Spartacus made an indelible impression on Starz audiences, he is also an amazing human being whose courage, strength and grace in the face of adversity have inspired all of us."
Spartacus: Blood and Sand airs 9:30pm Wednesdays on GO!