The scene for the Strictly final was set from the off by Len Goodman. “Throughout history there have been epic battles – Waterloo, Trafalgar, and now the Battle of Blackpool!” announced the head judge, like a battle cry to his few remaining troops before they went over the top.
Fourteen weeks of blisters, bruises and ballroom tantrums culminated in a spectacular evening live from Blackpool that saw Brucie stay up way past his bedtime and Tess finally find a flattering frock in her wardrobe.
And it was the perfect ending to what has been a fantastic series – definitely the best yet! Nancy the Italian temptress rising from her coffin, Russell the royal astrologer being shot out of a cannon and Robbie the ruthless footballer giving a tangerine a run for its money – pure Strictly gold.
Perhaps third-placed Jason Donovan was more cannon fodder than serious contender, but when he stepped out in a pink satin shirt waving two fuchsia ostrich feathers as if his life depended on it to I Will Survive, it was clear that he wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
And the war veteran proved he still had some ammunition in his tank with a spectacular show dance that earned him a perfect 40, while the two rookies could only manage 39s. But, while the pipsqueak from McFly and the Waterloo Road soap princess could have danced through the night, Jason’s 20 years on them really started to show. A worthy contestant but, quite rightly, he was the first finalist to fall.
Which left the two youngsters to twirl, twist and tango to the death. Both performed brilliantly, and every year it is astounding that two celebrities who have invariably never stepped on a dance floor sober, let alone heard of quickstep, can over the course of a few months look like professionals.
Harry’s American smooth had flair and charisma few could have imagined the shy drummer boy, unused to being centre-stage, had in him. And Chelsee’s rumba was sophisticated and graceful – two qualities the bubbly Mancunian actress lacked way back in September.
Both were worthy contestants who threw everything they had at the competition and were impossible to distinguish between…until Harry dealt the winning blow.
There was one man who, in my opinion, always has the power to influence the outcome and when he pinned his colours to Harry I knew that he would emerge victorious. We finally saw a chink in Craig Revel Horwood’s steely armour when he cracked a huge grin and admitted what I had suspected for a while: ‘Like the nation I have fallen in love with you too, Harry!’ And with that the battle for hearts and minds was won and victory was all but assured.
So huge congratulations to little Harry McFly, who can proudly hold his head up high when he rejoins his highly decorated band of brothers. With a jungle crown and a glitterball trophy between them, what will be next for this fearless group of young men? The celebrity reality circuit is surely their oyster.