It was Strictly, and the BBC, at its best: everyone welcome, and everything all the better for it
As the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final began, it was all about Representation Strictly. From the first flick to the final lift, serious points about changing modern Britain – about inclusion, diversity and legitimacy – were being made amid the drama and the sequins.
In the show’s first-ever two-person (and thus shorter) final, here was a young deaf woman – EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis, 27 – dancing with professional partner, Giovanni Pernice, 31. Bookies favourite Ayling-Ellis was competing against John Whaite, 32 – chef and 2012 Great British Bake Off winner – in a same-sex LGBTQ couple with Johannes Radebe, 34. They should have been joined in the final by a woman of colour – presenter, AJ Odudu, 33 – who was sadly unable to perform with her partner, Kai Widdrington, 26, due to a ligament injury.