AJ Odudu pulls out of Strictly Come Dancing tour due to foot injury that ruined final hopes

The TV presenter had been set to dance with Kai Widdrington on tour. Credit: PA/BBC

AJ Odudu has been forced to pul out of the Strictly Come Dancing tour due the same foot injury which saw her crash out ahead of the show's live final last year.

The TV presenter missed out on her chance to claim the title in the 2021 series after suffering a torn ligament in the days before the grand final.

Her and partner Kai Widdrington had been set to join the other stars of the series on the tour, and were due to perform their final routine that's not yet been seen in public.

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."

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The 33-year-old will be replaced by EastEnders star Maisie Smith, who was a finalist in the 2020 series, and will perform with professional dancer Widdrington.

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 dancer Rose Ayling-Ellis (left) is deaf. Charities praised her silent dance - without music - on the dance show. Credit: PA

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.

Audiences will also enjoy group performances from the show’s professional dancers with a judging panel 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 kicks 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.