Last Thursday, I got the chance to meet the Strictly finalists. I hosted the Strictly press conference at the BBC, and the nervousness and excitement in the room was tangible. Looking at the final on Saturday, you can see that those feelings were amplified in the Strictly ballroom as our couples danced for the last time.
After one of the greatest opening sequences to grace our television screens (does Jeremy Vine own a sequinned shower cap at home? If not, he needs to invest in one!) it was on to the first two dances of the night. The contestants had to take on two dances – to repeat a dance they’d done at some point during the series, and then to pull out all the shops for a Showdance.
Jay and Aliona re-did their Quickstep, which saw them spiralling around the dance floor with huge grins on their faces. After praise from the judges, Aliona’s choreography led to their showdance linking key moves from their time on Strictly together. They danced to The Weeknd, which was a fantastic choice, and Jay came down from the ceiling like Spiderman. It was great to see the best moves put together in a compilation, but the judges weren’t impressed and felt that the dance was missing a real finale.
Let’s talk about Georgia and Giovanni, shall we? They repeated their Bond-themed Rumba from Movie Week. It was full of flair and intimacy, and it was great to watch it again. I was holding my breath during the fall in the Showdance. After going into a handstand blindfolded, the rest of the dance was full of romance. It’s always great to watch Georgia and Giovanni dance, and Saturday was no exception.
Kellie and Kevin went all the way back to week one and took on their Tango. What better way to show how much you’ve grown as a dancer? They were so confident together – they practically strutted across the floor and brought the rock’n’roll. The judges were spellbound, and it led to Craig giving Kevin his first ten EVER this series.
If that wasn’t good enough, their Showdance was the most intense, high-tempo Lindy Hop I’ve ever seen. It was so great to see them bring their physical comedy back, and the judges rewarded it by giving them another score of 40.
Katie and Anton’s dances were full of cinema. Their first dance was the Quickstep – Katie’s hat falling over her face only added to the theatricality! The judges pulled up a fair amount of criticism, but it was still a huge improvement on the last time they danced it.
Their Showdance had a lot of fire in the set, intensity in the music and a lot of fancy legwork. Sadly, these great dances weren’t enough to save them and the public voted for Katie and Anton to leave the competition.
And then it was down to the final three. There was one more dance to go, and none of the contestants disappointed. Georgia was Roxy again for her Charleston to All That Jazz, Kellie and Kevin embraced the Force for their Star Wars-themed Charleston, and Jay and Aliona were SO intense in their Paso Doble.
But there could only be one winner, and when Jay and Aliona were called I can’t say I was surprised. All the finalists were fantastic, but Jay and Aliona have been consistent since day one and they deserved to hold the Glitterball Trophy high.
Now I’m looking forward to tackling the post-Strictly blues with Christmas. I’ll feel pretty sad with no sequins, glitz and Salsa in my life – I’m sure I won’t be the only one, either.
I wonder if it’s it too early to think about who might be in it next year…?
Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas special is on Christmas Day at 6:15pm on BBC1