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Maisie Smith replaces AJ Odudu on Strictly Come Dancing live tour

Kai Widdrington and Maisie Smith (BBC/PA)
Kai Widdrington and Maisie Smith (BBC/PA)

AJ Odudu has pulled out of the Strictly Come Dancing tour on medical advice after injuring her foot ahead of the live final, it has been announced.

She will be replaced by EastEnders star Maisie Smith, who was a finalist in the 2020 series.

Smith will perform with professional dancer Kai Widdrington, who was paired with Odudu during the 2021 series.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
AJ Odudu had to pull out of the Strictly Come Dancing final and will no longer appear in the tour (Ray Burmiston/BBC)

The duo will join series winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, alongside Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, and Max George and Katya Jones.

Odudu said: “I’m devastated not to be able to take part in the Strictly tour due to injury.

“I had hoped for one last dance with Kai, but I must obviously follow the medical advice.

“I wish my Strictly family the very best of luck on the road and I’ll definitely be there to cheer them on.”

Smith said: “I’m thrilled to be asked to restart my Strictly journey on this year’s arena tour.

“Kai and I will be dancing the quickstep and the samba – I can’t wait for rehearsals to start next week.

“It will be a joy to dance with everyone and so great to see my EastEnders friend Rose again.  I wish AJ a speedy recovery.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Johannes Radebe and John Whaite will also appear on the Strictly live tour (Guy Levy/BBC)

Odudu was forced to pull out of the live final of the 2021 series after suffering a torn ligament.

The TV presenter had consistently impressed the judges with her routines but her absence meant the final went ahead with just two celebrity contestants – EastEnders actress and eventual winner Ayling-Ellis and TV baker Whaite.

The tour will also feature group performances from the show’s professional dancers – Nadiya Bychkova, Amy Dowden, Neil Jones, Jake Leigh, Cameron Lombard, Luba Mushtuk and Jowita Przystal – while the judging panel will be made up of Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli.

The show will be hosted by It Takes Two presenter and former Strictly professional Janette Manrara.

The live tour will kick off in Birmingham on January 20, before travelling to Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Glasgow and Nottingham. It will finish at London’s O2 Arena on February 13.

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