Rose Ayling-Ellis, the actress who this year became the first deaf contestant on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, is now also the first deaf winner of the British dance competition series, after triumphing in its 19th season.
Ayling-Ellis shared her win with professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice—prevailing over John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, who together comprised the series’ first same-sex partnership.
Ayling-Ellis is best known on the acting side for her turn as Frankie Lewis in BBC One’s long-running soap opera, EastEnders. The 27-year-old performer and advocate of deaf awareness has also previously appeared in the series Summer of Rockets and Casualty, among other projects.
Live shows for Strictly Come Dancing‘s 19th season kicked off on September 25. Additional non-professional contestants included actresses Nina Wadia and Katie McGlynn, actor and comedian Robert Webb, actor Greg Wise, rugby pundit (and former player) Ugo Monye, comedian and talk show panelist Judi Love (of ITV’s Loose Women), Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, entrepreneur Sara Davies, singer-songwriter Tom Fletcher (of the pop band McFly), chef and TV presenter Tilly Ramsay, journalist and TV presenter Dan Walker, actor and TV presenter Rhys Stephenson, and TV presenter AJ Odudu.