AJ Odudu’s exit leaves just two stars in running to lift Strictly glitterball

John Whaite and Rose Ayling-Ellis will compete for the prize.
AJ Odudu’s exit leaves just two stars in running to lift Strictly glitterball

By Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

The winner of Strictly Come Dancing will lift the glitterball trophy on Friday after AJ Odudu had to pull out at the last minute over an ankle injury.

Soap star Rose Ayling-Ellis and partner Giovanni Pernice and baker John Whaite and partner Johannes Radebe will go head-to-head for the trophy after Odudu suffered a torn ligament.

Her withdrawal means just two pairs will compete in the final, performing three routines each. It is unclear how this will impact the format of the show, which is due to run for more than two hours.

Among the dances that will be performed will be Ayling-Ellis’s widely praised couple’s choice routine, about her experiences as a deaf person.

Either Whaite or Ayling-Ellis would make history as winner of the show – Whaite as part of the show’s first male same-sex couple or Ayling-Ellis as the first deaf contestant.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Johannes Radebe and John Whaite (Guy Levy/BBC)

The series went ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic, with strict measures backstage to keep the cast and production crew safe.

However, judge Craig Revel Horwood, dancer Amy Dowden and contestants Judi Love and Tom Fletcher have all tested positive for coronavirus over the series.

Judge Motsi Mabuse was also absent for a week after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis (Guy Levy/BBC)

Comedian Robert Webb and partner Dianne Buswell withdrew from the show over the TV star’s ill health, while former rugby player Ugo Monye was sidelined by a back injury.

Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One at 7pm.

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