Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu ‘frontrunner’ to be crowned 2021 winner despite Rose Ayling-Ellis ‘stealing the show’ in semi-final

Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu bounced back from the dreaded dance-off and secured her place in the final...

Strictly Come Dancing's AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington in the semi-final
(Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu is one of the Strictly 2021 finalists after bouncing back from the dreaded dance off. Now her body language could suggest she’ll be the one to lift the glitterball as the grand final edges nearer.  

With the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 final now just days away, fans might already have a good idea of who they want to succeed Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse as champions. And judging by the semi-final scoreboard, this could be one of the toughest and tightest finals yet. Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu, Rose Ayling-Ellis and John Whaite achieved scores of 79, 79 and 78 respectively for their two semi-final dances. But as we all know in the final it's down to the public alone to decide the winner, with the judges scores just given as a guide. 

Now a body language expert has suggested that as the countdown to the final continues, despite landing in the dance off just two shows ago, it’s AJ Odudu who could emerge as a “frontrunner” to lift the glitterball this weekend... 

Strictly Come Dancing's AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington

(Image credit: BBC)

Why might Strictly Come Dancing's AJ Odudu be crowned the winner?

From the very beginning, Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu has stunned not only the Strictly 2021 judges but the viewers at home. Opening the series with a brilliant score of 34 for her Jive, AJ has generally been one of the top contestants, with just a few exceptions when certain dances didn’t quite go her way. Of course scores don’t count for everything and when it comes to the public vote, the Strictly couples who’ll end up facing the dance off can sometimes get a little hard to predict.  

After securing 30 in the quarter-final and having to dance her Salsa again, the judges ultimately opted to save AJ and Kai. This meant BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova were the ones who left Strictly Come Dancing ahead of the semi-final.

But despite the disappointment of that week for Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu, she certainly came back fighting in last weekend’s semi-final with a place as a finalist at stake. So much so that AJ and Kai were joint leaders with Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, who also achieved scores of 39 and 40 for their two dances.  

And it seems AJ’s body language could be very enlightening indeed! Reflecting on the remaining couples’ semi-final performances, body language expert Darren Stanton has analysed them on behalf of Betfair Casino. Now he’s revealed who *he* thinks could lift the glitterball trophy in the final and AJ is in with an amazing chance.

Strictly Come Dancing's AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington

(Image credit: BBC)

Darren explained, "AJ narrowly managed to escape being voted off in the quarter-final, so all eyes were on her as she took to the dance floor on Saturday. The judges were keeping a watchful eye on AJ and her partner Kai and it’s clear the pair worked hard to up their game. AJ has the potential to be the eventual winner and this could be thanks to her strengthened connection with Kai as shown on the dance floor on Saturday.”

Throughout the competition speculation about a possible romance between AJ and Kai has arisen, though they’re believed to be just good friends and dance partners. Nevertheless, it seems their ballroom connection has “reached new heights”—a great sign for their final chances. 

"They were moving around as if physically connected as one person. The strength of their bond has reached new heights, with their near exit bringing them even closer together," Darren said. "Their body language was without fault throughout their performance and the hook at the end of the dance, the prolonged eye contact and general physicality between them shows the pair have built a very deep state of rapport between them.”

The expert also went on to discuss the way the judges reacted to Strictly Come Dancing's AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington’s dances and how the presenter could be a “frontrunner” as the countdown to the Strictly final continues. 

"Even the judges seem to think so, Anton was very complimentary about AJ, while Craig was the most positive he has been about AJ throughout the entire competition. Shirley put on a hugely passionate and animated display—clenching her fists and engaging her face—while delivering her feedback for the couple and her comments were truly heartfelt”, Darren said.

He then added, “I would even go as far to say AJ could emerge as the frontrunner as the final nears in the coming days and go on to lift the Glitterball trophy."

Exciting news for AJ and Kai fans as it seems their "strengthened connection" could potentially see them crowned Strictly 2021 winners.

Who is the current favourite to be crowned Strictly 2021 winner? 

Body language expert Darren’s analysis of the signs of Strictly Come Dancing’s AJ Odudu’s “frontrunner” potential are perhaps all the more surprising and exciting given that the presenter is not currently many Bookmakers’ favourite to be crowned strictly 2021 winner. According to BetVictor’s latest odds, it’s still Rose and Giovanni who are tipped for the win with 1-8, compared to AJ and Kai’s odds of 7-1 and John Whaite and Johannes Radebe’s odds of 20-1. 

Whilst Darren thinks that AJ’s amazing bounce back from the quarter-final dance off to the semi-final performance has “frontrunner” signs, Rose ended up “stealing the show” with her “effortless” dances. 

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He shared, "Last week, Rose looked like she was nervous and had lost confidence in her ability, but for the semi-final she was back to her best and the difference on Saturday was incomparable. It’s not surprising that all of the remaining couples pulled out the stops for the semi-final, but it’s fair to say Rose ended up stealing the show. Her performances were very seamless, you could even say almost effortless.”

The expert went on to express his belief that it was Rose’s Argentine Tango that particularly displayed her confidence as she asserted the same level of “dominance” as Giovanni. 

"While her Waltz saw her impeccably in sync with Giovanni, her confidence shined through during the Argentine Tango where she asserted just as much dominance as her dance partner”, Darren said. 

He continued, “Rose’s performance this week moved the judges, as Anton appeared slightly more emotional than normal when giving Rose her feedback and an overwhelmed Motsi was seen with a tear in her eye, commenting on how Rose's Waltz had been the ‘dance of the night’."

With this in mind, it’ll certainly be interesting to see whether Rose’s confidence and “effortless” performances with Giovanni end up surpassing AJ and Kai’s “deep state of rapport” on the dancefloor or whether John and Johannes could snatch the crown. Either way, the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 final looks set to be one of the most exciting yet as fans prepare to vote for their Strictly 2021 winners. 

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.


Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.


In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for womanandhome.com. 


After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!