Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Rose Ayling-Ellis becomes first deaf winner

LONDON – EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis has become the first deaf contestant to win BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.

She and her professional partner Giovanni Pernice were presented with the glitterball trophy in Saturday’s live final. Ayling-Ellis paid tribute to Pernice after being named the winner, saying he “always had a piece of her heart”.

The couple’s victory also marks the first win for Pernice, who has been a pro dancer on the show since 2015.

Speaking during the show Ayling-Ellis said: “I’ve become more me than I’ve ever been because of Strictly.” Shirley Ballas described her as “an inspirational young lady”. “I know in your heart you did it for the deaf community but for me you did this for every person watching this show,” she added. Ayling-Ellis held off competition from chef and former Bake Off winner John Whaite.

 Ayling-Ellis performed her Couple’s Choice routine again, which saw her dance with Pernice without music for 20 seconds as a tribute to the deaf community and an illustration of how people with a hearing impairment can still dance to music.

For their final dance, the pair performed impressive lifts during a Romeo and Juliet-inspired showdance to The Rose by Bette Middler.

Judge Anton Du Beke held back tears as he told the actress: “I can’t speak, it’s so beautiful. Forgive me for not looking at you or I will cry.”

Ayling-Ellis and Whaite had matching scores from the judges during the final, with both receiving perfect 40s for their favourite dances and their showdances.

Speaking to Claudia Winkleman before the result was announced, Whaite said: “It would be nice [to win the glitterball], I have got space on my shelf because my mum smashed my Bake Off trophy.

“Whoever it goes to, I will be there for them and applaud them and congratulate them.”



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