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15th Aug 2021

EastEnders’ Rose Ayling-Ellis to become Strictly’s first deaf contestant

Sarah McKenna Barry

“Bring on the glitter, the glam and the magic of Strictly.”

EastEnders’ actress Rose Ayling-Ellis is the 12th contestant to join the lineup for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, and she’s also the first deaf participant to take part on the show.

Taking to Instagram to share the news, Rose, who plays Frankie on the BBC soap, said: “If you told me one year ago that I would be on Strictly Come Dancing, I would have laughed in your face!

“I am still pinching myself, it doesn’t seem real. I am so, so, so, so excited to be a part of Strictly family this year and I cannot wait to meet everyone else.”

She added: “Bring on the glitter, the glam and the magic of Strictly and I will promise I will try my very, very best!”

Rose also said that it was both “exciting” and a “little bit scary” to be the first deaf contestant on the show.

She said: “It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels so amazing to finally have this out in the open.

“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 joined the cast of EastEnders in 2020, and drew acclaim for her performance as Frankie Lewis.

She’s also spoken about the need for more representation of deaf people in the media.

In an interview with Inside Soap earlier this year, she said: “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.”