By Kerri-Ann Roper, PA Entertainment Editor
Ed Sheeran has tipped actress Rose Ayling-Ellis to win this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The EastEnders actress and her professional partner Giovanni Pernice made Strictly history when they scored 40 in week six, the earliest the top mark has ever been achieved in the competition, for a Halloween-themed tango performed to Sheeran’s latest hit Shivers.
Asked on BBC Breakfast if he knew he had “written the perfect tango song”, he told Dan Walker and Sally Nugent: “No… whenever I have people dance to my songs on Strictly it’s usually Thinking Out Loud or Perfect, so it was actually a really nice thing to… it was a really pleasant surprise and I thought she did wonderfully and I think she’s going to win.”
Singer-songwriter Sheeran had surprised the couple with a video message on Saturday night.
He said: “Hey Rose, Ed Sheeran here. Thank-you so much for dancing to my track Shivers with Giovanni. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the season, I hope you win and I’m really honoured that you’re dancing to it. Have a great day, lots of love.”
— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) October 30, 2021
This year’s Strictly has a number of firsts as soap star Ayling-Ellis, who has played the character Frankie Lewis since 2020, is the first deaf contestant to take part and former Bake Off winner John Whaite is competing as part of the first male same-sex pairing.
Sheeran, 30, released his fourth solo studio album =, or Equals, last month and it comes after he married long-term partner Cherry Seaborn in 2019, with daughter Lyra Antarctica being born the following year.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I learnt how to dance for Thinking Out Loud and it is a really difficult skill to master and it’s not just about getting the moves right, it’s about your facial expression… and she’s just absolutely nailing it, really, really nailing it.”
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) November 2, 2021
He also spoke about collaborating with Sir Elton John on three Christmas songs, the first of which he said is being released at the beginning of December and is titled Merry Christmas.
The singer later posted an update on Instagram to say he was done quarantining after revealing on October 24 that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
He wrote: “Posting this pic to say I’m released from covid isolation today, so if you see me out and about I’ve had the all clear and done my quarantine. Excited to hit the ground running with work again, and SNL is still on, so tune in Saturday, see you there.”
His new music is on track to dominate this week’s UK singles charts, according to an early look from the Official Charts Company released on Monday, who say his single Overpass Graffiti is on track to claim the number one spot while former chart-toppers Shivers and Bad Habits are set for second and fifth place on the singles chart respectively.