Strictly 2021 FINAL: Rose Ayling-Ellis starts show with near-perfect score

Strictly 2021 FINAL: Rose Ayling-Ellis starts show with near-perfect score

Rose Ayling-Ellis kicked off Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night as she went head-to-head with John Whaite in what is the most diverse final in Strictly history.

For the first time, just two finalists competed after AJ Odudu was forced to pull out of the competition at the final hour due to an ankle injury. 

The EastEnders‘ actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with her Judges Choice’ dance with Giovanni Pernice, while John, 32, and his same-sex partner Johannes Radebe waited in the wings. 

Rose Ayling-Ellis kicked off Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night as she went head-to-head with John Whaite in what is the most diverse final in Strictly history

Rose Ayling-Ellis kicked off Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night as she went head-to-head with John Whaite in what is the most diverse final in Strictly history

Rose Ayling-Ellis kicked off Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night as she went head-to-head with John Whaite in what is the most diverse final in Strictly history

The pair hoped to improve their score of 37 previously as they danced the Quickstep to Love Is An Open Door from Frozen from Musical week. 

Commenting on their performance, head judge Shirley Ballas said: ‘It was Strictly magic. That was a phenomenal quickstep. 

‘You have managed to pull everything, you just went out there and you smashed it. Congratulations.’

Anton Du Beke added: ‘I’m not sure who is more nervous you or Giovanni. It was just beautiful, charming, wonderful.’

Connection: The EastEnders ' actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with her Judges Choice' dance with Giovanni Pernice, while John and his same-sex partner Johannes Radebe waited in the wings

Connection: The EastEnders ' actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with her Judges Choice' dance with Giovanni Pernice, while John and his same-sex partner Johannes Radebe waited in the wings

Connection: The EastEnders ‘ actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with her Judges Choice’ dance with Giovanni Pernice, while John and his same-sex partner Johannes Radebe waited in the wings

The EastEnders' actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with herJudges Choice' dance the Quickstep to Love Is An Open Door from Frozen, from Musical week

The EastEnders' actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with herJudges Choice' dance the Quickstep to Love Is An Open Door from Frozen, from Musical week

The EastEnders’ actress, 27, who is the first deaf star on the show, opened with herJudges Choice’ dance the Quickstep to Love Is An Open Door from Frozen, from Musical week

Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points

Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points

Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points

Congratulations: Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points

Congratulations: Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points

Congratulations: Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points

The race is on: And it was neck-and-neck on the leaderboard as John managed to also score 39 points, with just Craig holding back from giving him that perfect 10

The race is on: And it was neck-and-neck on the leaderboard as John managed to also score 39 points, with just Craig holding back from giving him that perfect 10

The race is on: And it was neck-and-neck on the leaderboard as John managed to also score 39 points, with just Craig holding back from giving him that perfect 10

Strictly leaderboard  

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice 

Judge’s Choice:  Quickstep- 39

Favourite Dance: Couple’s Choice-  40

Show Dance: The Rose

Total 

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe 

Judge’s Choice: Rumba: 39

Favourite Danc e: Paso Doble- 40

  Show Dance: You’ve Got The Love –   

Total     

Craig Revel Horwood scored nine, Motsi Mabuse, Shirley and Anton all gave 10 points, giving them a near-perfect score of 39 points.   

Next up was John’s Judge’s Choice which was the Rumba to Shape of My Heart by Sting. Shirley told the pair: ‘It’s rather emotional for me. It was a story of narrative and hope. The best compliment I can give you John is that I hope I can dance the Rumba with you one day.’

Motsi added: ‘I just loved it. To dance the Rumba in the final- that’s a first. But for me, this was appreciation of time, touch and breath and that is what you want.’

And it was neck-and-neck on the leaderboard as John managed to also score 39 points, with just Craig holding back from giving him that perfect 10. 

Viewers were left in tears as well as Anton as Rose performed the Couple’s Choice to Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson. 

The moving dance, featured a silent moment, as the actress paid homage to the deaf community. Reflecting on her performance Rose said: ‘This dance means a lot to me. I did feel like this is the dance that says everything about my Strictly journey.

‘I knew this dance would make an impact but actually it changed people’s perception. That’s what we’ve been asking for for years.’ 

They were awarded the full 40 points. 

And there was everything to play as it went in to the final round after John and Johannes were also awarded a perfect score for their couple’s choice. 

The pair improved on their 39 points from Musicals week as they did the Paso Doble to He’s a Pirate by Klaus Badelt, from Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Winning Craig over, he joked: ‘You’re little finger did bother me’, before he added: ‘It was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.’ 

Opening the show, host Tess Daly made reference to AJ’s premature exit. She said: Sadly AJ and Kai are not dancing tonight. AJ sustained an ankle injury earlier in the week and despite treatment and rest she is not able to dance, so has had to withdraw from the competition.

Claudia Winkleman added: ‘We will be speaking to AJ last in the show and I think we can all agree that although AJ cannot perform tonight she is and always will be a Strictly finalist.  AJ we love you.’ 

The show is set to feature a performance from the professional dancers, where Janette Manrara will rejoin the group, after quitting to host It Takes Two, and dance alongside husband Aljaž Škorjanec. 

Breathtaking: Viewers were left in tears as well as Anton as Rose performed the Couple's Choice to Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson

Breathtaking: Viewers were left in tears as well as Anton as Rose performed the Couple's Choice to Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson

Breathtaking: Viewers were left in tears as well as Anton as Rose performed the Couple’s Choice to Symphony by Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson

Perfect score: The pair couldn't believe it as they were awarded the full 40 points

Perfect score: The pair couldn't believe it as they were awarded the full 40 points

Perfect score: The pair couldn’t believe it as they were awarded the full 40 points 

Ahead of the final, Rose was at 1-20 odds on favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing with 95% chance of lifting the glitterball trophy, while John, was the 8-1 outsider. 

Other predictions suggest EastEnders star Rose and dance partner Giovanni could finish their three routines with 119 points out of 120, compared to chef John and dance partner Johanne predicted 117 points.

Both finalists are groundbreaking contestants, with Rose being the first deaf celebrity to compete in Strictly come dancing and John being the first male celebrity to be in a same-sex pairing. 

Leading bookmaker Coral has given Rose Ayling-Ellis an 89% chance of winning Strictly Come Dancing, and named her the shortest priced Strictly favourite ever.  

Coral’s John Hill said: ‘It’s very unfortunate that AJ has had to withdraw at this stage. Rose is now the shortest priced favourite we have ever had in a Strictly final.

‘Rose has been the favourite to lift the Glitterball Trophy from very early into this series. Our odds suggests she has a 89% chance of winning the final this weekend.

‘It will be an early Christmas present for many punters as Rose has been well backed to prevail ever since she stepped foot on the dance floor in week one.’    

Emotional: The Strictly final was thrown into chaos on Friday after AJ Odudu, 33, pulled out of the competition at the last minute after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week

Emotional: The Strictly final was thrown into chaos on Friday after AJ Odudu, 33, pulled out of the competition at the last minute after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week

Emotional: The Strictly final was thrown into chaos on Friday after AJ Odudu, 33, pulled out of the competition at the last minute after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week

The Strictly final was thrown into chaos on Friday after AJ Odudu, 33, pulled out of the competition at the last minute after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week. 

The television presenter and her professional dance partner Kai, 26, broke down in tears on Friday’s It Takes Two as they made their first TV appearance after being forced to quit the show. 

Speaking to host Rylan Clark-Neal, ‘gutted’ AJ wiped away tears after watching a clip of their Strictly journey, as she remarked: ‘It wasn’t the way we wanted to come out.’ 

AJ explained: ‘Do you know what, we had the best time and on Monday we rehearsed and we were just excited like, “Right, we’re going to do the jive, we’re going to do the Charleston, what a way to end our experience.” 

Sad news: The presenter, 33, had no choice but to pull out of the grand final after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week (pictured on Friday)

Sad news: The presenter, 33, had no choice but to pull out of the grand final after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week (pictured on Friday)

Sad news: The presenter, 33, had no choice but to pull out of the grand final after suffering ligament damage to her foot during rehearsals this week (pictured on Friday) 

‘My ankle’s given way and my ligament has ruptured and it’s just not gonna happen. We’re gutted because we were ready to smash it.

‘This isn’t the way that we wanted to go out, obviously, but even just looking back at all of those moments, it’s just been an absolute pleasure dancing with Kai every single week, so thank you.’   

Meanwhile, Kai reflected on their two energetic dances and told how they were ‘hoping to change them’ to make it easier for AJ, but added that her injury was just ‘too bad’.

The pro dancer added that he’s glad they ‘went out on a high from last week’ after topping the leader board and bagging their first perfect score of 40 points.  

It's all over: AJ has been forced to give up her dream of taking home the glitterball trophy and released a statement expressing her upset

It's all over: AJ has been forced to give up her dream of taking home the glitterball trophy and released a statement expressing her upset

It’s all over: AJ has been forced to give up her dream of taking home the glitterball trophy and released a statement expressing her upset  

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