EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis joins CBeebies Bedtime Stories for Deaf Awareness Week

Rose Ayling-Ellis reads a Bedtime Story for CBeebies
Rose Ayling-Ellis will read a CBeebies Bedtime Story (Image credit: BBC)

Rose Ayling-Ellis is joining CBeebies Bedtime Stories for a special episode, where she'll be the first celebrity to sign a story in British Sign Language (BSL).

The Strictly Come Dancing champion and EastEnders actress joins the popular programme for Deaf Awareness Week, where she'll tell the story of a young bear and his dad on their journey into the discovery and management of deafness.

CBeebies has confirmed that Rose will be reading Can Bears Ski? by award-winning poet Raymond Antrobus, which draws on the author’s own experience to show how isolating it can be for a deaf child living in a hearing world. It is illustrated by Polly Dunbar.

Speaking about her CBeebies debut, Rose says: "I am super excited to read my first CBeebies Bedtime Story in British Sign Language and it’s even more wonderful to share a story written by a deaf writer."

She added that she wants children from all backgrounds to tune in, saying: "I hope deaf children enjoy the story and it inspires hearing children to want to learn BSL more!"

This is the first ever BSL signed story for CBeebies Bedtime Stories, which will also be subtitled, with Rose speaking only to introduce the story and afterwards to say goodnight to the young audience, but the rest will use accessible language for those deaf and hard of hearing.

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Rose Ayling-Ellis made Strictly history as the first deaf contestant to take part, and blew judges away with her routines alongside partner Giovanni Pernice. She made the final two alongside the competition's first all-male pairing of John Whaite and Johannes Radebe and ended up winning.

She is best known for her role as Frankie Lewis in EastEnders, who is the daughter of Katy Lewis and Mick Carter and has become a big part of the BBC soap since her arrival in 2020.

Rose will be following in the footsteps of a great Cbeebies Bedtime Stories line-up including Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Gentleman Jack star Suranne Jones, Stephen Fry and Doctor Who's David Tennant. 

Rose's episode of CBeebies Bedtime Stories airs at 6:50pm on Sunday, May 8 and previous stories are also available on demand via BBC iPlayer.

Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress