The Oscar-nominated actor stepped in for Craig Revel Horwood during Saturday (20 November) night’s Musicals Week spectacular, after the TV judge tested positive for Covid-19.
During the show, Ayling-Ellis and her professional partner Giovanni Pernice performed to “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen.
Following the couple’s performance, they were praised by the judges, with deaf actor Ayling-Ellis using an interpreter to receive her critiques.
However, Erivo spoke to Ayling-Ellis in British Sign Language, saying that she found the performance “joyful” and “beautiful”.
“That was so much fun to watch, you managed to get all the characterisation, the mood, the feeling, all in one,” she said. “It was gorgeous, so thank you.”
Viewers at home were left emotional by the exchange, with one tweet reading: “Rose’s face lit up when Cynthia signed to her and I think that really sums up just how amazing it’s been to have her on a prime time show.”
“Cynthia has been on the panel for just over half an hour and has used sign language to communicate with Rose... whereas certain others have had months to do so and haven’t even bothered…” another commenter added.
“Cynthia signing for Rose was so beautiful. My heart burst,” one viewer said.
Another tweet read: “Aw Rose’s face when Cynthia signed to her! That was special. Great addition to the judging panel.”
Erivo scored Ayling-Ellis 10 points, with the EastEnders star in third place on the leaderboard.
Strictly Come Dancing continues Sunday 21 November at 7.15pm on BBC One.
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