'Visibility is everything': 'Strictly' fans and stars love most diverse final ever

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/12/2021 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ++LIVE SHOW++ John Whaite, Rose Ayling-Ellis - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
'Strictly' viewers praised the diverse final. (BBC/Guy Levy)

Strictly Come Dancing fans have praised the most diverse final the show has ever seen, as Johannes Radebe told partner John Whaite "visibility is everything".

The two couples competing in tonight's live final on BBC One are Whaite and Radebe who are the show's first all-male couple, and Rose Ayling-Ellis, the first deaf contestant, who is dancing with Giovanni Pernice.

Read more: Johannes Radebe shares how all-male pairing has improved his relationship with his mum

Paying tribute to the efforts made this series to increase representation, the final's opening professional dance included a number of same sex pairings.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/12/2021 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ++LIVE SHOW++ Johannes Radebe, John Whaite - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Johannes Radebe thanked John Whaite for dancing with him. (BBC/Guy Levy)

After Whaite and Radebe performed their first dance, a Rumba from earlier in the series, pro dancer Radebe explained to Whaite how important their inclusion in the line-up was.

He said: "Thank you for coming on this year. You and me know that visibility is everything. I applaud you, I'm proud of you, and anything you need, you call me."

Ayling-Ellis and Pernice repeated their Couple's Choice routine which has been called the greatest ever moment on Strictly for its silent section which represented Ayling-Ellis' experience of dancing.

Viewers shared how they felt about the representation in this year's final, with one fan tweeting: "This has been the BEST series of #Strictly EVER. Hopefully next year's 20th series will be even more inclusive and diverse. It's what we want and expect. Both couples left are champions. Let's go."

Someone else added: "I know #Aj isn’t in the final, but the 3 ‘diverse’ finalists warms the cockles of my heart. Well done British public."

Many viewers gave their opinions on who they would like to see win, but agreed that either would be worthy champions.

One person tweeted: "Both couples are utterly worthy winners and I wouldn’t want to call it, but as a gay man who recognises the unprecedented impact that they have had on the utterly joyous and positive representation of queer people, John and Johannes are my winners."

Someone else wrote: "Whoever wins tonight (and I’m assuming it’s gonna be Rose) what a finale this is. A deaf contestant and a same sex couple as finalists is such amazing representation, and no one can deny they’ve reached this point on talent and skill. Just a shame AJ can’t dance."

Read more: AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington cry over missing Strictly final

Another viewer added: "The representation in this years Finale makes my heart happy. For me I want Rose to win. My favourite thing about her is how she has had such wonderful affect on Gio. Such a wonderful partnership."

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 21:00:01 on 18/12/2021 - Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/12/2021 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: ++DRESS RUN++
*NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 21:00HRS, SATURDAY 18TH DECEMBER, 2021* Giovanni Pernice, Rose Ayling-Ellis - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis performed their silent dance again. (BBC/Guy Levy)

And someone else wrote: "Rose or John winning #Strictly is a massive, massive win for the deaf community, or the gay/lgbtq+ community so I’m happy either way. What a massive win for representation! A big positive for 2021."

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington had been due to compete in the final but had to drop out yesterday on medical advice after Odudu damaged the ligaments in her ankle.

She said that she was "deeply upset" as she announced the news, and was in the studio as part of the audience with a pair of sparkly crutches.

Watch: John Whaite and Johannes Radebe on success as first all-male pairing