You can’t get more diversity in Strictly than this! For BBC chiefs who wanted something ‘less dull and boring’, this semi-final was perfect for four contestants.










The BBC has been praised for having the most diverse Strictly Come Dancing semi-final in the show’s history.

The line-up for last night’s programme featured two black contestants, a gay man and the favourite to win the overall title – deaf EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis.

Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite – who is dancing as part of the first all-male couple with Johannes Radebe – and TV presenters AJ Odudu and Rhys Stephenson were also taking part.

Ms Odudu, who danced with Kai Widdrington, said: ‘It’s been such a beautiful year being in Strictly in one of the most diverse years ever and I really think it’s beautiful.

Pictured: Giovanni Pernice with Rose Ayling-Ellis

Photo: Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling Ellis

Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite ¿ who is dancing as part of the first all-male couple with Johannes Radebe

Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite – who is dancing as part of the first all-male couple with Johannes Radebe 

I think the change will continue, hopefully.’

BBC chiefs were disappointed last year when Strictly’s first same-sex couple, dancer Katya Jones and boxing gold medalist Nicola Adams, were forced to quit after the third week when they tested positive for Covid.

One source said: ‘There is a great deal of delight that Strictly is reflecting Britain today with its line-up. This year and last, there was a real effort to ensure that there was diversity – particularly with the introduction of the same-sex couples. Last year it didn’t go quite so well, but this year has been an absolute triumph.

The viewers clearly love it. Audience figures have been really high.’

LEATHER LOOK: Dancer Nancy Wu and presenter Rhys Stephenson

LEATHER LOOKS: Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Wu, dancers

Modern dance: AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington are seen as they performed together

Modern Dance: Kai Widdrington & AJ Odudu perform together

Last night, LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: ‘It was great to see two men dancing together. Public acceptance seems to be complete. It shows that the BBC’s reticence to have a same-sex couple for many years was based on misplaced fears about negative public reaction that have not materialised.’

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of The Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: ‘Rose has shown us that she’s an outstanding dancer and that deaf people can do anything – whether that’s dancing, acting or performing.’

With a score of perfect 40 for both their routines, Ms Odudu was joined by Ms Ayling Ellis at the top of the semi-final leaderboard.

After scoring 36 and 38, Mr Whaite was third and Mr Radebe was fourth.

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