'Strictly' winner Rose Ayling-Ellis quits 'EastEnders'

Rose Ayling-Ellis plays Frankie Lewis in 'EastEnders'. (BBC)
Rose Ayling-Ellis is quitting as Frankie Lewis in EastEnders. (BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing winner Rose Ayling-Ellis has announced that she has quit her EastEnders role and will leave the soap later this year.

The actor has played Frankie Lewis in the BBC One soap since 2020 as the soap's first regular deaf cast member, but has become better known for winning the 2021 celebrity dance contest with Giovanni Pernice.

Read more: Is this the date when Strictly will finally return to Blackpool?

Ayling-Ellis was the first ever deaf contestant to take part in Strictly and was praised for a routine that she danced partly in silence to show what her experience of the show was like.

EastEnders,21-07-2022,6525,Lola Pearce (DANIELLE HAROLD);Frankie Lewis (ROSE AYLING-ELLIS),***EMBARGOED TILL TUESDAY 12TH JULY 2022***, BBC, Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron
The actor was the soap's first regular deaf cast member. (BBC)

The 27-year-old said of leaving EastEnders: “It’s been incredibly special to be EastEnders’ first regular deaf actor. I have loved my time on the show and Frankie has been such an awesome character to play, however now feels like the right time for me to move on and I am excited and ready for new challenges.

“I will always treasure my time on the show and all the incredible people I have worked with who have supported my growth as an actor these last two years and given me so many amazing memories.

“I am excited for viewers to see Frankie’s exit storyline; I think it’s a really important one that will hit home for lots of people.”

Read more: How to get tickets for Strictly Come Dancing 2022

Ayling-Ellis is the latest to join the exodus of cast members, with Danny Dyer due to leave his role as Mick Carter later in the year along with his screen daughter Nancy (Maddy Hill) and Danielle Harold dropped as Lola Pearce.

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice were praised for their silent dance on Strictly. (BBC)
Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice were praised for their silent dance on Strictly. (BBC)

Since appearing on Strictly and EastEnders, Ayling-Ellis has done much to raise the profile of the deaf community, including becoming the first person to read the CBeebies Bedtime Story in British Sign Language, and earlier this week helping to launch the first Barbie doll who comes with a hearing aid.

At an EastEnders royal set visit, the Duchess of Cornwall told Ayling-Ellis that The Queen enjoyed watching Strictly and that various members of the royal family had helped the actor to win the 2021 series by voting for her.

Camilla said: "Rose, the Strictly star. I said we were all voting for Rose, I don't know how you did all those dances."

Ayling-Ellis then said: "Can I ask you, does the Queen watch Strictly Come Dancing?"

Camilla replied: "I think she does. She probably watched you."

Watch: Strictly star Rose Ayling-Ellis unveils first Barbie doll with hearing aids