Strictly Come Dancing casts first deaf contestant and second EastEnders star

Strictly Come Dancing has cast its first ever deaf contestant as EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis joins the 2021 line-up.

The actress plays Frankie Lewis on the BBC One soap and has been confirmed as the 12th celebrity joining the dance show when it returns this Autumn.

She said: "To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is so exciting… and a little bit scary.

“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!”

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Rose follows her fellow EastEnders alum Nina Wadia onto the dance floor, as the Zainab Masood star was unveiled as this series' 11th contestant on Lorraine earlier today (August 12).

Greg Wise, BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker, influencer Tilly Ramsay, Hollyoaks' Katie McGlynn and Dragon's Den star Sara Davies have previously been announced for the series.

CBBC presenter Rhys Stevenson, Bake Off winner John Whaite, actor Robert Webb, Sky presenter AJ Odudu and McFly's Tom Fletcher complete the list of names revealed so far.

  • BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin ‘annoyed’ at Dan Walker for hiding Strictly news

Rose joined EastEnders in May last year as the deaf daughter of Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Katy Lewis (Simon Lahbib), who sexually abused Mick when he was a boy.

She has spoken previously about her passion to bring deaf culture onto mainstream television.

Rose told Inside Soap: "For too long, TV hasn't portrayed the deaf experience of deaf culture.

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"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. I truly hope that hearing voices such as mine on TV will become the norm."

Before her big EastEnders break, Rose starred as Bianca Sinclair in Casualty.

She also appeared alongside Keeley Hawes and Timothy Spall as Esther in the Stephen Poliakoff drama Summer of Rockets.

Strictly Come Dancing is set to return to BBC One later this year

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