revealed | 

The 2021 Strictly Come Dancing finalists...and how some of them have Irish connections!

However, J Odudu and Kai Widdrington have been forced to pull out of the final
The semi-final line-up for Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

The semi-final line-up for Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Clodagh Meaney

After 12 weeks of incredible dancing, Covid controversy, romance rumours and bags of glitz and glamour, Strictly Come Dancing is set to come to an end this weekend.

With the finale just days away, we’re looking at this years finalists, who they are, how they’ve done in the competition and some of their sneaky Irish connections.

Rose Ayling and Giovanni Pernice

EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis (BBC/PA)

EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis (BBC/PA)

Making Strictly Come Dancing history, 27-year-old Rose Ayling is the competition’s first ever deaf contestant.

The Eastenders actress was cast in her first acting role in 2011 when she starred in The End, which was directed by deaf film director Ted Evans.

Other credits include Casualty, and a music video for boy band The Vamps.

Ayling is in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Samuel Arnold for several years.

Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis performing on Strictly Come Dancing (BBC/PA)

Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis performing on Strictly Come Dancing (BBC/PA)

The actress is paired with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice for the competition.

On week six they scored 40 (full marks) for their tango. It was the earliest perfect score in the show's history. In week eight, their Couple's Choice dance featured a period of silence, which was included as a tribute to the deaf community. The moment won them TV Moment of The Year at the Heat Unmissable Awards.

31-year-old Giovanni who hails from Sicily in Italy, has been a professional dancer on the show since 2015. During his time on the programme he has reached the final five times with celebrity partners Georgia May Foote, Debbie McGee, Faye Tozer, Ranvir Singh, and now Rose Ayling.

Giovanni and Rose have been the subject of romance rumours after Giovanni ended his relationship with Irish model and former Love Island star Maura Higgins.

Maura Higgins and Giovanni Pernice

Maura Higgins and Giovanni Pernice

In October after their split, he shared a statement confirming that he ended his relationship to focus on Strictly Come Dancing.

”Firstly, great relationships with great people can come to a natural end. This has been the case for me recently. There was absolutely no wrong-doing and this should be the end of any speculation,” his statement began.

“Whilst I respect and understand interest in my personal life, wouldn't it be fantastic to instead use this space to raise awareness of subjects and issues which need the attention.”

“My eyes have been opened to so many things during my career. But I am learning so much from this series of Strictly. The show has highlighted many important conversations for different communities and increased representation.”

“These are the conversations which deserve the time, energy and recognition. We must concentrate on what's important and how we can all make a difference in life. Gio x.”

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe

John Whaite (Matt Crossick/PA)

John Whaite (Matt Crossick/PA)

In the show’s first ever male same sex couple, Great British Bake-Off winner John Whaite was paired with professional dancer Joahnnes Radebe.

John Whaite won the third series of the baking show in 2012, the same year he graduated from University of Manchester with a First Class Honours in Law.

After appearing on the programme, John studied for a Diplôme de Pâtisserie, one of baking’s most respected qualifications, at Le Cordon Bleu, London.

He went on to work on ITV’s Lorraine show as their resident chef before he was dropped from the programme in 2017.

John is also an author, and has penned four cookery books

The 32-year-old lives in Leeds with his graphic designer fiancé Paul Atkins.

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

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

Johannes Radebe is a 34-year-old choreographer from South Africa.

He was a professional dancer on the South African version of Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 and Dancing with the Stars in 2018.

Later that year, he joined Strictly Come Dancing in the UK. BBC.

During his first year on the show he was partnered with English actress Catherine Tyldesley who came in 11th place. The following year he was paired with Caroline Quentin who came in 8th place.

John and Johannes found themselves in the bottom two for the first time last weekend.

Performing the Jive, the pair were saved by the judges as they faced Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu in the dance-off.

It was earlier revealed how TV presenter AJ Odudu had to pull out of the final on Saturday night.

The decision was made following an injury Odudu has been struggling with this past week.

The announcement comes from the Strictly Twitter account that shared that AJ and professional partner Kai will be withdrawing.

Today's Headlines

More TV

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices