Strictly Come Dancing: EastEnders’ Rose Ayling-Ellis first deaf star

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Rose Ayling-Ellis for Strictly Come Dancing

Rose Ayling-Ellis will be Strictly Come Dancing’s first deaf contestant (Picture: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 has just confirmed its first ever deaf contestant with EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis confirmed for the line-up. 

Rose, 30, was announced as the 12th celebrity to join the star-studded bill on Thursday, following stars such as McFly singer Tom Fletcher, BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Matilda Ramsay. 

She’s not the only history-making contestant as Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite will be a part of the competition’s first all-male couple. 

Sharing her excitement ahead of the next series, Rose said: ‘To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting… and a little bit scary.

‘It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open!’

She added: ‘I hope I will do the deaf community proud and break down more barriers. But I am also very excited to learn an incredible new skill and even better I get to learn whilst wearing beautiful dresses made especially for me!’

Rose has played Frankie Lewis in EastEnders since 2020 and recently praised the BBC One soap for exploring her character’s deaf identity further. 

The actress told Inside Soap in January: ‘For too long, TV hasn’t portrayed the deaf experience of deaf culture. 

‘I think for people who don’t know anyone who is deaf, it’s important to show what life is like for a deaf person. Even things such as using my voice and having the audience hear my “deaf accent” is a big step forward.’ 

Rose Ayling-Ellis as Frankie Lewis in EastEnders

Rose has starred as Frankie Lewis in EastEnders since last year (Picture: BBC/Kieron McCarron/Jack Barnes)

She added: ‘I truly hope that hearing voices such as mine on TV will become the norm. Plus, it’s exciting to have two deaf characters on a major prime-time show.’ 

Rose is the first ever deaf actor to play a deaf character on the soap. She has previously appeared in various stage productions, and her other TV credits include Summer of Rockets and Casualty. Rose use British Sign Language (BSL).

The actress will have a familiar face among this year’s Strictly line-up as former EastEnders star Nadia Wadia has also signed up. 

Production on the upcoming series has already faced a challenge after professional dancer Nadiya Bychkova tested positive for Covid, meaning the rest of the cast and crew have to isolate for 10 days. However, Strictly bosses have promised this won’t delay the series. 

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 is set to debut this autumn.

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