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Maisie Smith reveals how AJ Odudu reacted to taking her place on Strictly tour

AJ has been recovering from an ankle injury

Maisie Smith has revealed that AJ Odudu gave her her blessing after she stepped in for the TV presenter to take her place on the Strictly Live UK Tour. AJ was forced to withdraw from the 33-date nationwide tour, which kicks off this week in Birmingham, after sustaining a nasty ankle injury during the series last year.

Luckily, Strictly 2020 finalist Maisie was on hand to quickstep in at the eleventh hour – and the 20-year-old actress tells HELLO! that she's glad to have AJ's support.

READ: AJ Odudu reacts to Kai Widdrington's first photo with Maisie Smith ahead of tour

"I spoke to AJ and she told me: 'Don't worry, I'm just excited that you and Kai [Widdrington] both get to perform.' That was nice and reassuring because I didn't want to step on anyone's toes," says the EastEnders star, who foxtrotted to the finals with pro dancer Gorka Marquez in 2020.

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Now paired with Kai, Maisie admits: "I thought it was going to be strange dancing with someone else for the first time, but it's less weird than I thought. Kai is lovely and we get along so well."

READ: AJ Odudu continues to fuel romance rumours with dance partner Kai Widdrington

READ: All you need to know about AJ Odudu's love life

The tour will give Maisie the chance to show off her moves to the country after missing out on the 2021 Live Tour due to lockdown. "I was so gutted that we didn't get to do the tour last time, so this is my second chance!" she says. "I'm a little bit rusty, but I'm getting there. It feels like I'm back home."

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AJ is still recovering from her foot injury

AJ had been due to perform on the live tour but sadly made the decision to back out in early January after seeking medical advice. She and her dance partner Kai were also forced to pull out of the 2021 finale just days before their much-anticipated performance.

READ: Rose Ayling-Ellis made this heartbreaking comment to John Whaite at Strictly final

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AJ and Kai made it to the Strictly finals but had to withdraw due to AJ's injury

"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," AJ said in a statement. "I wish my Strictly family the very best of luck on the road and I'll definitely be there to cheer them on."

Maisie and Kai are joining 2021 winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice on the tour dancefloor, as well as Sara Davies and Aljaž Škorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, and Maisie's fellow 2020 contestant Max George, dancing with Katya Jones. 

Strictly Come Dancing Live UK Arena Tour, 20 January-13 February. Venues and tickets: strictlycomedancinglive.com.

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