'Strictly Come Dancing' announces 'EastEnders' star Rose Ayling-Ellis as twelfth contestant

Strictly Come Dancing contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis
EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis joins Strictly Come Dancing 2021. (Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing will welcome EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis to the dancefloor this autumn, making history as Rose will be the first-ever deaf contestant to compete for the glitterball trophy.

Rose joined EastEnders last year as Mick Carter's (Danny Dyer) secret daughter Frankie Lewis, becoming the first deaf actor to play a deaf character in a soap. As well as playing fan favourite Frankie, Rose has also appeared in various stage productions, uses British Sign Language (BSL) and can also lip read.

Speaking about her new Strictly adventure, Rose said: "To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting... and a little bit scary. 

"It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels 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!"

Frankie Lewis sees Mick's victim's impact statement in EastEnders

Rose has played Walford's Frankie Lewis since last year.  (Image credit: BBC)

The exciting news was exclusively revealed via the official EastEnders Twitter account, so soap fans were the first ones to know about Rose's involvement in Strictly.

Alongside an interview with Rose, they wrote: "We’re unbelievably excited to announce that our very own Rose Ayling-Ellis will be joining the cast of 2021! Take a look at our exclusive interview with Emma Barton and Rose. Good luck from all of us at #EastEnders, Rose!"

When asked about being the first deaf contestant, Rose added: "I can't believe it's me that's doing it. I'm so excited and think it would be great to break the stereotype that people think deaf people can't enjoy music and learn to dance."

Strictly is making history with its line-up this year, as they've also got plans for the show's first all-male pairing. TV chef John Waithe was confirmed to be involved in this pairing, although it's not yet known who he'll be dancing with.

In a statement, John said: "What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion. Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!"

Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC1 this autumn. 

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