Strictly Come Dancing crew learning sign language ahead of welcoming first deaf contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis

Rose Ayling-Ellis is Strictly’s first deaf contestant (Picture: PA)

The Strictly Come Dancing production team is learning sign language and undertaking specialised training in preparation for welcoming EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis to the show.

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Rose is the BBC competition show’s first-ever deaf contestant and is one of 15 celebrities set to take the ballroom by storm when the series launches on Saturday.

The star, who portrays Frankie Lewis on the soap, will be accompanied by an interpreter both in rehearsals and during the live episodes, executive producer Sarah James has shared.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk and other press, Sarah said: ‘I think already myself and the team have learned a lot from Rose.

‘She’s an amazing person, she is also very honest about what she needs and what we need to adapt, so it’s been an ongoing conversation.

‘All of the team are doing deaf awareness training, which has been brilliant, and we’re learning some sign language, and that’s been brilliant as well.’

The Strictly crew are learning sign language for Rose (Picture: BBC)

Sarah continued: ‘Obviously, Rose will need an interpreter with her at all times so she will always have an interpreter with her in training.

‘And then on the show, you may see an interpreter occasionally on camera – obviously she’ll need somebody to interpret the judge’s comments and her chats with Claudia (Winkleman).

‘But other than that, I know that Rose is looking forward to the show just like everybody else and I can’t wait to see what she does.’

Great British Bake Off star John Whaite will also make history on the show as part of the first male same-sex pairing.

It follows on from the first all-female pair of Olympic boxer Nicola Adams and Katya Jones last year, who had to pull out mid-series after a positive Covid test.

Strictly returns this weekend! (Picture: PA)

‘It’s definitely something that we’ve always wanted to do and I’m really excited about John doing it,’ Sarah enthused.

‘I think he’s already proven that he’s an amazing spokesperson for it and he’s a household name and he is just a brilliant guy, so I’m really looking forward to it being John this year.

‘I think Nicola and Katya were amazing last year, and I think everybody really, really enjoyed that partnership.

‘It was obviously a shame that it was cut short because of what happened, but they’ve 100% paved the way, the research that we’ve done since has proven that everybody really, really appreciated that partnership.’

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Sarah also explained that a celebrity might be able to return to the show if they or their partner tests positive for Covid.

‘If a celebrity does receive a positive test, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are out of the competition,’ she added.

‘It might mean they could miss a week and still get enough training in to return.’

Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday 18th September on BBC One.

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