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John Whaite’s heartfelt statement after Strictly final: ‘I pray you always have the heart to be kind’

John Whaite and his dance partner, Johannes Radebe, provided valuable representation as Strictly's first all-male couple.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: BBC

John Whaite has given a heartfelt statement following the conclusion of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

On Saturday’s (18 December) grand final, John and his professional partner, Johannes Radebe, competed for the Glitterball trophy alongside deaf actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and her dance partner Giovanni Pernice. 

Despite being neck and neck for the entire programme, the audience ultimately voted to crown Rose and Giovanni the winners with Rose making history as the first deaf person to win the show. 

“I’ll never forget it”

Despite coming second, John was more than happy with what his time on the show has come to represent and mean for so many people. He made history himself this year as part of the show’s first all-male dance couple. Both he and Johannes identify as gay. 

Posting an image of John and Johannes from their ultimate, showstopping show dance on Instagram on Sunday (19 December) John said: “When the glitter has faded and the spotlights have dimmed, I hope you all cherish something mighty special from this that will live on in your hearts.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by John Whaite (@john_whaite)

He continued: “I’m so proud to have been part of such a diverse, groundbreaking series of @bbcstrictly. What started life as an entertainment show has this year provided solace for so many outcasts. Whoever you may be, I pray you always have the heart to be kind, to be understanding and to love. It really is as simple as that.”

Thanking Johannes “for holding my hand and for sharing this little moment in our lives,” John added, “I’ll never forget it.”

Posting the same image as John, Johanned simply said: “We did that @john_whaite 🤍”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Johannes Radebe (@johannesradebe)

Speaking to Attitude as they appeared on the cover in November, both John and Johannes recognised the significance of two men dancing together on mainstream TV. 

John, who told us he’d wanted to be on Strictly since he was a boy said: “I knew that it was an important thing to do, that it was hopefully going to change the way TV is, change the way that children feel when they watch TV – it’s massive – but I was expecting to get a lot of hate, like [people] sliding into the DMs and saying, ‘You’re disgusting’ and that kind of thing.”

He confirmed last week the pair had had “a lot of trolling” ahead of the final. 

For his part, Johannes, whose dance with fellow professional dancer Graziano di Prima in 2019 attracted 200 complaints, said he was wary of the backlash he and John might receive but thought, “What if it’s successful? I realised that there’s people who want to see it, that would love to see it more than what I’m feeling.”

Speaking to the Radio Times ahead of Saturday’s final, John also revealed the difference being on the show and being open and proud had made to others, relaying a message he’d had from a teacher friend of his. 

“Two of the lads in the playground were kissing and no one batted an eyelid like it was normal. It’s just normalised to humanity. It’s saying to the world how great and diverse the spectrum of humanity is and that’s all it’s about.”

He also said the show had helped improve his relationship with his mum, so even more reason to celebrate!

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