ROSE Ayling-Ellis was crowned the 2021 Strictly champion tonight after a dazzling and emotional battle with John Whaite.
The EastEnders star, 27, was the heavy favourite ahead of the series finale, and she didn’t put a foot wrong on her way to claiming the Glitterball with Giovanni Pernice.
Bake Off winner John, 32, and partner Johannes Radebe put up a good fight, but viewers favoured Rose on the night.
On winning for the first time, Giovanni said: “Thank you to this beautiful young lady who made all of my dreams come true.”
Rose said: “You are so amazing, you pushed me to believe in myself. I just want you to know you’ve always got a place in my heart.”
The decider came after fellow finalist AJ Odudu, 33, was forced to withdraw the day before the final through injury.
But she was in the studio with her sparkly crutches to cheer her co-stars on, along with dance partner Kai Widdrington.
Rose and Giovanni kicked things off with their movie week Quickstep, performing with beaming smiles and fancy footwork.
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It got them an impressive 39 points, and Giovanni followed it by telling Rose it had been a dream to dance with her, calling her a “friend for life”.
John and Johannes began with a passionate rumba that moved the audience to tears.
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Shirley Ballas sobbed a little too and told John she hoped to dance a rumba with him one day.
It earned them an equally great 39, but many thought it deserved full marks.
They also revisited their now iconic part-silent routine from earlier in the series.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the pair briefly cut the music to Clean Bandit’s Symphony and put the spotlight on Rose’s deafness.
One viewer wrote on Twitter: “That’s it. I’ve gone.”
Another posted: “I’m a mess.”
A third said: “Oh my gosh. So so so stunningly beautiful. You’re incredible.”
Their chemistry even had some viewers clamouring for them to get married.
Speaking as she made last-minute preparations for this weekend, she said: “That dance changed my life. So I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.
“I want to enjoy it because it’s my last Saturday night ever – I just want to thank the public for keeping me in and believing in me.”
They first performed their couple’s choice dance last month and many heralded it as the TV moment of the year.
Giovanni said: “It was such a big moment it would be weird for us not to do it. Obviously the signing moment was so powerful and because this got so much attention.
“It’s just fair to do it again – it’s the right thing to do. But for us Saturday night is a celebration – we’re in the final, we made it all the way, then que sera sera.”
And there were more tears as the couples delivered a fairytale show dances to bring their Strictly journeys to a close.
Rose’s win was praised by The National Deaf Children’s Society.
Susan Daniels OBE, the society’s Chief Executive, said: “Congratulations to Rose and Giovanni on winning the Glitterball Trophy and for giving us such inspirational entertainment during your time on Strictly.
“It’s hard to overstate just what an impact Rose has made, not only on deaf children and young people, but also on the public’s understanding of deafness.
“Throughout her Strictly journey, she’s been a shining example to deaf and hearing people alike. This could be a new dawn for deaf children and young people everywhere because it’s clear for all to see that with the right support and the will to succeed, they can aim for the stars.
“Strictly may have come to an end, but we sincerely hope that this surge of interest in deafness and the desire to engage with deaf people continues long into the future.”