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AJ Odudu withdraws from Strictly Come Dancing tour due to injury and is replaced by Maisie Smith

‘Devastated’ AJ Odudu has been forced to pull out of the Strictly Come Dancing live tour due to her ongoing foot injury – and has been replaced by Maisie Smith.

The TV presenter, 33, had to withdraw from the BBC One show’s grand final in December after suffering ligament damage to her ankle during training with her professional partner Kai Widdrington. 

AJ said she was ‘gutted’ to not have the opportunity to dance with Kai, 26, again, after the pair’s sizzling chemistry delighted viewers during their time on the show. 

Out: ‘Devastated’ AJ Odudu has been forced to pull out of the Strictly Come Dancing live tour due to her ongoing foot injury – and has been replaced by Maisie Smith 

In an official statement, she explained: ‘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.’

AJ later posted a video update to her Instagram page, joking that she had been a little too optimistic to think that she would be able to go from wearing a ‘moon boot’ to going on a 64-date tour. 

She told her followers: ‘I’ve got to go from this moon boot into an ankle brace, into an orthopaedic insole you put into your shoes, and essentially I have to walk again before I can dance again. 

'Gutted': The TV presenter, 33, had to withdraw from the BBC One show's grand final in December after suffering ligament damage to her ankle (pictured with Kai Widdrington)

‘Gutted’: The TV presenter, 33, had to withdraw from the BBC One show’s grand final in December after suffering ligament damage to her ankle (pictured with Kai Widdrington)

Withdrawing: AJ said she was 'gutted' to not have the opportunity to dance with Kai, 26, again

Tough times: The TV personality joked that she had been a little too optimistic to think that she would be able to tour

Withdrawing: AJ said she was ‘gutted’ to not have the opportunity to dance with Kai, 26, again, and joked that she had been a little too optimistic to think that she would be able to tour

‘That’s going to be the next stage of this rehabilitation process. In order for my ankle to continue to heal well, in order for the ligament to continue to develop in the way it currently is… and it’s going in a very positive direction.

‘But, you know, any dancing is going to do it more harm than good. I’m sorry I can’t be on tour, I’m gutted I’m not dancing with Kai again, I’m sad I’m not gonna be reunited with all of my Strictly pals.

‘I will be there with bells on at some point and it’s going to be spectacular

AJ joked: ‘Nothing about this boot is saying Strictly Come Dancing tour. I don’t know who I thought I was, I mean the audacity to be hobbling around on these crutches thinking I was going to go on a 64-date tour. I was so optimistic.’   

Show-stopper! Former EastEnders star Maisie, 20, is not a stranger to the dance floor after finishing as runner-up in 2020

Show-stopper! Former EastEnders star Maisie, 20, is not a stranger to the dance floor after finishing as runner-up in 2020

Former EastEnders star Maisie Smith is no stranger to the dance floor, finishing as runner-up in 2020. 

Maisie, 20, will dance with Strictly pro Kai when the tour kicks off on January 20, and said she is looking forward to performing alongside her former EastEnders co-star Rose Ayling-Ellis, 27, who won the series last month.

She 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.’

Exciting: Strictly Come Dancing has announced the celebs taking to the dancefloor on its 2022 live tour with fan favourites Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice on the line up

Exciting: Strictly Come Dancing has announced the celebs taking to the dancefloor on its 2022 live tour with fan favourites Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice on the line up 

Strictly Come Dancing announced the celebs taking to the dancefloor on its 2022 live tour. 

Fans of the 2021 series will be thrilled with appearances from John Whaite and Johannes Radebe as they’re set to appear alongside winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice.  

Other dance couples on the bill from this year’s show include Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, and Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu.  

The Wanted’s Max George, who was a contestant in 2020, will join the tour with Katya Jones. 

Strictly’s professional dancers Amy Dowden, Neil Jones, Luba Mushtuk and Jowita Przystal will also be performing with the couples in over 33 sequin-spangled shows. 

Cast: Also taking to the stage are John Whaite and Johannes Radebe (pictured), Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, and Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu

Cast: Also taking to the stage are John Whaite and Johannes Radebe (pictured), Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, and Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu

Janette Manrara will be hosting the tour after the star took over from Zoe Ball as host of It Takes Two this year.     

The tour will be choregraphed and directed by Craig Revel Horwood and promises audiences an evening of glamour and excitement.  

Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli, will also feature on the tour’s line-up, which kicks off on January 20 and runs until Feburary 12 with a glittering finale at London’s O2 Arena. 

The live show marks Bruno’s much-anticipated return to Strictly after he missed this series due to travel restriction uncertainty in the US, where he’s based.   

Bruno was replaced by Anton Du Beke on this year’s series while he remained stateside to continue with Dancing With The Stars.  

Judges: The tour will be choregraphed and directed by Craig Revel Horwood (L) and mark the return of Bruno Tonioli (R) who was absent from the tour due to travel restrictions this year

 Judges: The tour will be choregraphed and directed by Craig Revel Horwood (L) and mark the return of Bruno Tonioli (R) who was absent from the tour due to travel restrictions this year 

Of his return to the show, Bruno told MailOnline: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be back on the judging panel for the Strictly Arena Tour for the first time in two years.

‘I’ve missed my fellow judges, I’ve missed the glitz and glamour of the tour and I’ve missed the amazing audiences that come to see us all over the country – I hope you have missed me too?

‘I cannot wait to be back alongside Shirley, Craig, the celebs and the pros. The fans are really in for a treat – next year’s arena tour is going to be simply fantastic.’

Meanwhile, Craig added: ‘I’m delighted to be back directing and judging the 2022 tour. 

Next year is going to be bigger and better than ever before. With Bruno coming back to join us on the judging panel, this tour will be just fab-u-lous.’

And Shirley gushed of the event : ‘I’m really looking forward to re-joining Bruno and Craig on the Strictly live tour. 

The audiences at the arena shows are amazing – I can’t wait for January when we get the show on the road.’

For ticket information, visit strictlycomedancinglive.com

STRICTLY COME DANCING LIVE TOUR 2022: WHO ARE THE COUPLES? 

RHYS STEPHENSON & NANCY XU  

Celebrity’s Age: 27

Profession: CBBC presenter   

How far did they get?: Set to compete in the semi final   

TILLY RAMSAY & NIKITA KUZMIN

Celebrity’s Age: 19

Profession: CBBC presenter 

How far did they get?: Eliminated in week ten   

ROSE AYLING-ELLIS & GIOVANNI PERNICE

Celebrity’s Age: 30

Profession: Actress 

How far did they get?: Set to compete in the semi final 

 AJ ODUDU & KAI WIDDRINGTON

Celebrity’s Age: 33

Profession: TV presenter 

How far did they get?: Set to compete in the semi final  

JOHN WHAITE & JOHANNES RADEBE

Celebrity’s Age: 33

Profession: Great British Bake Off Winner and TV chef

How far did they get?: Set to compete in the semi final   

 

SARA DAVIES & ALJAZ SKORJANEC

Celebrity’s Age: 37  

Profession:  Businesswoman

How far did they get?: Eliminated in week 8   

 

MAX GEORGE & KATYA JONES 

Celebrity’s Age: 33 

Profession:  Pop star 

How far did they get?: Eliminated in week four in 2020 after he competed alongside Dianne Buswell (pictured) 

 

 

 

 

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