EastEnders star Maisie Smith praises ‘patient’ Strictly partner Kai after just two weeks’ notice to perform on tour

MAISIE Smith has praised her Strictly Come Dancing tour partner Kai Widdrington for getting her up to scratch in just two weeks.

The EastEnders actress, 20, jumped in at the last minute to fill 2021 finalist AJ Odudu's shoes, after she was forced to pull out of both the competition and the tour due to a painful ankle injury.

Speaking to The Sun at the Strictly tour launch in Birmingham, Maisie said: “He’s been very patient. I can take a while to pick up  things, but he’s been really supportive.

“We’ve had a lovely time, laughing and getting along like a house on fire.”

Last night marked the opening night of the highly-anticipated tour, as the class of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 embark on a 22-date tour of the UK.

From January 20 to 23, the dancers will perform in Birmingham, before heading to Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Glasgow.

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They'll then head to Nottingham before finishing off at London's O2 arena.

Maisie was surprised with a big bunch of flowers for AJ, who is gutted not to be on tour.

She said:  “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."

Maisie – who has recently quit playing Tiffany Butcher – appeared with Gorka Marquez in the 2020 series.

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