Strictly Come Dancing stars are applauded for learning sign language as the show welcomes its first deaf contestant

Strictly Come Dancing stars EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis this year

Strictly logo 2021
(Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing's presenters and stars have been praised for learning sign language–to help communicate with deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis.

Hosts of the show Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman used sign language as they interviewed the actress on the first show last night.

Fans of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 spotted the presenters using sign language, and praised them, along with professional dancers Gorka Márquez and Giovanni Pernice.

Rose Ayling-Ellis, who currently stars in Eastenders, is the first-ever deaf contestant in the show's history.

Finally, after weeks of wondering, last night 15 brand new celebrities paired with their professional partners on Strictly. Rose has been paired with Giovanni Pernice and during their first interview together, it was revealed that Giovanni had learned sign language too. 

Fans on Twitter loved how inclusive the dancers had been, with one saying: “I got so emotional watching Giovanni sign to Rose, like he learnt some sign language for her."

While another said, “Seeing everyone sign is making me so happy I’m actually tearing up!”

Rose Ayling-Ellis originally said about appearing on the show, "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!"

The actress, 26, is best known for her role in EastEnders, which she joined in 2020, playing Frankie Lewis. Rose is the first-ever deaf actor to play a deaf character on the soap. 

Rose said, "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!”

This BBC dance competition has earned a cult fanbase ever since it first hit screens back in 2004, and after all these years on air, it looks like its popularity isn't going anywhere. 

The glitzy reality show is finally back following months of anticipation for its 19th season and, if the previews are anything to go by, the year's series could be its best one yet. 

Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist - writing about the royals and celebrities for Woman & Home, fitness and beauty for the Evening Standard and how the world of work has changed due to the pandemic for the BBC. 


She also covers a variety of other subjects and loves interviewing leaders and innovators in the beauty, travel and wellness worlds for numerous UK and overseas publications. 


As a journalist, she has written thousands of profile pieces - interviewing CEOs, real-life case studies and celebrities - interviewing everyone from Emma Bunton to the founder of Headspace.