'Strictly' star AJ Odudu will be replaced by ex 'EastEnders' actress Maisie Smith for tour

Strictly AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington
(Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing star AJ Odudu will not be joining her fellow 2021 contestants for the upcoming tour, as she's still recovering from the injury that forced her to drop out of the series final.

AJ had been set to join John Whaite and Rose Ayling-Ellis in the final but was advised not to take part by medical professionals after injuring her foot during rehearsals. Unfortunately for AJ, this injury has also meant she cannot join Kai for the 2022 arena tour. 

Confirming the news, AJ wrote on Instagram: "Following medical advice, sadly I've had to withdraw from the @strictlycomedancinglive due to injury. 😔

"I had hoped for one last dance with @kaiwidd & we were both so looking forward to finally showing you our (unseen) show dance, but it turns out I can't go straight from wearing a medical moonboot to performing in 37 shows in 3 inch heels. Who knew?! 😆💁🏾‍♀️🙈

She added: "The good news is, Kai and the rest of my Strictly fam will be setting the stage on fire and and I can't wait to go cheer them all on. 😘✨"

Instead, Kai Widdrington will be dancing with former EastEnders star Maisie Smith, who was partnered with him during the 2020 competition where they made it all the way to the final.

Announcing the news, Maisie said: “I’m thrilled to be asked to restart my Strictly journey on this year’s arena tour. Kai and I will be dancing the quickstep and the samba — I can’t wait for rehearsals to start next week.

“It will be a joy to dance with everyone and so great to see my EastEnders friend Rose again. I wish AJ a speedy recovery."

The Strictly Come Dancing live tour begins in Birmingham on January 20, before heading to Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Nottingham. The final show in the tour will take place at London’s O2 Arena on February 13. Tickets are available here.

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