Rose Ayling-Ellis was the 12th contestant to be unveiled.
The 26-year-old EastEnders actress will be the first ever deaf competitor. She joined the soap as Frankie Lewis in 2020, becoming the first deaf actress to play a deaf character on the soap. Her previous TV work includes BBC Two’s cold war drama Summer of Rockets, alongside Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens, and Casualty.
Growing up, she says, she rarely saw deaf people on television so didn’t think acting was a possible career for her. Instead, her TV career “happened by accident” when she met a deaf director who wanted to make a short film, she told the BBC earlier this year.
“To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting.. and a little bit scary,” she said.
“It is the hardest secret I have ever had to keep so it feels amazing to finally have this out in the open! 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!”
She uses British Sign Language (BSL).