LONDON, 5th May 2022: Ahead of the Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards on Sunday 8th May, Strictly’s Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice celebrated their Virgin Media Must-See Moment nomination by paying tribute to the D/deaf community with a surprise visit to Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children in London during National Deaf Awareness Week.
During their visit, Rose and Giovanni – winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 – taught a dance lesson at the school in celebration of their BAFTA Must-See Moment nomination for their silent dance to ‘Symphony’ and spent time interacting and answering questions from the students.
On meeting the children at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, Rose said “I really love the children here, they’re so cute. It’s nice to actually meet deaf children because I’ve not yet met many deaf children since Strictly, so it was really lovely to have that opportunity.”
Giovanni added “Rose was always telling me that when she was a kid, she didn’t have a role model. And now there is somebody like Rose doing stuff like this and showing all the kids to embrace being deaf and be proud of it.”
Rose and Giovanni are nominated for the Virgin Media Must-See Moment, the only public-voted for award at the Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards, for their silent dance to Clean Bandit’s ‘Symphony’ on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.
In the middle of the performance, the studio fell silent for eight bars of music while Rose and Giovanni continued to dance. Rose said it was important to her that the moment gave an insight into her experience as the show’s first-ever deaf contestant, but that it also celebrated the deaf community by being a positive and joyful dance.
As the first deaf celebrity on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021, Rose Ayling-Ellis’s appearance helped raise awareness of the challenges deaf people face every day, leading to more than three-quarters of D/deaf children thinking the programme has given the public a better understanding of deafness. Google searches for BSL rose substantially during Strictly Come Dancing and, searches for local BSL courses more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020[ii].
Discussing the impact of the Must-See Moment, Rose says “I knew it would make an impact, but I didn’t think it would make this much of an impact that it’s changed people’s attitudes towards deaf people. I can’t believe how powerful dance can be.”
Giovanni adds “As a hearing person, I didn’t realise the difficulties that deaf people can sometimes go through, such as, even hearing music. We both knew the dance was going to be big so I wanted to get this absolutely right. So, with the help of Rose, I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve and more.”
Strictly Come Dancing is one of six nominees for Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment which celebrates the diversity of British TV and the moments that got our nation talking. The other nominees include An Audience with Adele, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, It’s A Sin, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and Squid Game.
Giovanni stated during the visit to Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children: “A BAFTA would be a fantastic achievement for the both of us. But I think what we achieved with the message that we’re sending to people and now the nomination for the Must-See Moment, it means that things are moving in the right direction for the deaf community. And not just the deaf community, for everybody. So in a sense, winning the Must-See Moment voted for by the public would be the ‘cherry on the cake’ but I think we won already, even with things like this.”
Dani Sive, Headteacher at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, said “There’s nothing like a deaf role model. That’s number one for the children to see deaf adults doing lots of different things from art and entertainment to different careers and different professions that people are involved with. To see deaf role models means the children think they can do that, and they might want to do the same. It’s a big, big benefit for us and the children.”
The winner of Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment will be announced during the Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards on 8th May 2022 at 6pm on BBC One. This year marks Richard Ayoade’s third consecutive year as host as the red carpet event returns to London’s Royal Festival Hall. Coverage begins on BAFTA’s social channels from 2pm with Sam Thompson, Zeze Millz and Vick Hope, bringing viewers even closer to the action.
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