With AJ having to pull out on the eve of the Strictly final due to a torn ligament in her right ankle, the BBC is left with a two-couple final for the first time since Chris Hollins beat Ricky Whittle back in 2009.

It’s a huge shame for both AJ, who has arguably been the most outstanding dancer across the series, and her pro partner Kai, who had made the final in his first year on the show.


Rose home and hosed?

It is now a straight shoot-out between John Whaite and Rose-Ayling-Ellis, and the Betfair Winner market tells its own story with Rose trading at 1.051/20.

The Strictly final is decided by public vote-only, with the judges scoring the routines purely for ‘guidance’ purposes.

The first dances of the evening will be the judges’ choices and are selected on the basis of routines Craig, Motsi, Shirley and Anton think can be improved upon. They have chosen John’s week seven rumba (35) and Rose’s week nine quickstep (37).

Votelines traditionally open after the first round of dances, and prior to the showdances that follow. John’s showdance will be set to Florence + The Machine’s ‘You Got The Love’ and include Charleston and Argentine tango elements among a medley of dance genres him and Johannes will be shoehorning in.

Rose’s showdance, intriguingly incorporating what is being described as the biggest prop in Strictly history, will be lyrical in nature and set a romantic tone to Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’.

Last but not least will be the Couple’s choice routines, with John & Johannes selecting their week three, pirate-themed paso doble (39), and Rose & Giovanni choosing their week eight Contemporary number (39).

Sound of silence

That Rose Contemporary dance has had over 1.7 million views on YouTube and was undoubtedly the most impactful routine of the entire series.

It evocatively brought viewers into Rose’s world, as the Clean Bandit track ‘Symphony’ was temporarily paused while Rose and Giovanni continued to dance. It is sure to resonate powerfully once more when it is seen again this evening.

Viewing figures, and votes, always rise up significantly when it comes to the Strictly final and there will probably be around 14 million tuning in to watch tonight’s live show on BBC1.

Given the devastating blow of AJ’s withdrawal, it is likely the panel, led by head judge Shirley Ballas, will seek to ramp up the feel-good factor, which will probably equate to a massive ten-fest.


John was in the semi-final dance-off and comes into the final in what would have been third place on the public vote granted AJ’s participation, so he has some significant leeway to make up on Rose.

There is the question of where AJ’s vast swathes of Strictly supporters transfer their votes tonight. Unity among the fairer sex would lead you to suspect a bigger move from AJ to Rose than AJ to John.

Both John and Rose represent a lot more than springy botafogos and crisp fleckerls in this series and have encouraged partisan support among Strictly fans, but up to this point the overwhelmingly positive sentiment has been flowing more in Rose’s direction.

She comes across as an incredibly charming young woman, has achieved a remarkable standard of dancing despite being deaf since birth, and has forged an endearing partnership with her pro partner Giovanni. Collectively, this has won her the hearts and minds of Strictly viewers and should see Rose lift the Glitterball trophy this evening.

Always a bridesmaid

A further factor in Rose’s favour, likely to be referenced tonight, is that Giovanni will be taking part in his fourth Strictly final having never won it before.

Rose was advised for the win back in September at 4.3100/30 on Betfair, so it’s fingers crossed time going into tonight.

Any shrewd Specials trader, aiming to make long-term profit, is attuned to expect the unexpected, and would always take the chance to green up their book when dangled the opportunity of such a cheap lay on Rose of 1.061/18.

I hope you have enjoyed the Strictly 2021 coverage here. Looking back across the entire series, it has been a pretty successful one, with six eliminations called correctly, along with the inevitable, big-priced crossbar job of Katie McGlynn who just escaped first elimination, after landing in the dance-off and being saved on a split decision.

You can’t win them all but hopefully Rose can bring home the bacon for her backers this evening.

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