Strictly champion Rose Ayling-Ellis says winning was best gift she could give Giovanni
Strictly: Rose and Giovanni are crowned the winners
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EastEnders star Rose, 27, and Giovanni, 31, won the title on Saturday in a history-making final for the BBC One show. Rose was Strictly Come Dancing’s first deaf winner, while runners-up, Bake Off star John Whaite, 32, and Johannes Radebe, 34, were the show’s first all-male pairing.
And Giovanni’s triumph marked the first time the Italian dancer had won the contest despite reaching the finals three times previously since joining the show in 2015.
Rose said yesterday: “Winning the glitterball is the best gift I could ever give to Giovanni because he really deserves it. I am beyond proud of us.
“I never thought I would leave Strictly with a best friend for life, thank you Gio. He came into my world and brought the best out of me. I cannot thank him enough for all the work and effort to make me become the dancer that I am today.”
Rose also praised unsung heroes from her Strictly journey, including her interpreters.
She said on Instagram: “Thank you for making sure everything was accessible for me so that I could focus on my dancing without worrying about how I could communicate.
“I felt that I could 100 percent be myself because of this and for that I am eternally grateful.”
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Giovanni posted a photo of himself sleeping with the glitterball trophy and said: “We are the champions my friend Rose. Dreams do come true if you believe in it…and that’s what you did super star.”
Actress Rose is best known for playing EastEnder Frankie Lewis, the soap’s first deaf character who uses British Sign Language.
On joining Strictly she said: “I want to break down the stereotype deaf people can’t dance and can’t enjoy music.”
Among her three routines in the final was a repeat of their Couple’s Choice contemporary dance which pays tribute to the deaf community with a period of silence.
However, her journey has not been easy with Rose admitting on BBC Breakfast that her supportive mother had to “fight” for deaf accessible education.
Nevertheless she thrived at Cheriton Primary School in Hythe, Kent, which had a specialist deaf unit, and The John Wallis Church of England Academy in Ashford.
She was deputy head girl and teachers called her “our little firework”.
Strictly judge Anton Du Beke said after the show: “Magnificent performances from both couples tonight ‑ a truly world-class final! And to Rose and Giovanni, our new Strictly champions…just perfect! Many congratulations, my loves, you were sensational.”
Fellow contestant, TV presenter Dan Walker, tweeted a photo of Rose and her mum Donna. He said: “Rose’s mum knows how hard she has worked, how many barriers she has had to run through, how many times she has been told ‘No’ and how much all this means. This is why I voted for Rose and Gio from week one.”
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