After 13 weeks of waltzing, jiving and salsa-ing, we’ve now quickstepped our way to the Strictly Come Dancing final for 2019.
With all three boasting brilliant performances in their repertoire, any one of our finalists would be worthy winners of Strictly series 17.
But here at RadioTimes.com, we’ve got a soft spot for the loose-hipped Kelvin Fletcher, who, after samba-ing his way both to the top of competition and into our hearts, has won our vote.
Without meaning to state the painfully obvious, Kelvin deserves to win because he is actually an amazing dancer, having regularly hovered around the top of the leaderboard for most of the competition. Far outstripping even the nimble-footed Karim, Kelvin has never scored beneath 28 in the competition (even then, that was his score in week 2), and has been instrumental in producing some of the most memorable routines of the series.
From the ‘dangerous’ rumba in week four, to the (criminally undermarked) jive in Blackpool, to, of course that week one samba, it’s always Kelvin and the masterful choreography produced by his fantastic partner Oti Mabuse that I find myself looking forward to week by week.
The jaw-dropping routines are made all the more amazing when you remember that Kelvin wasn’t even meant to be on this series, having been drafted in as a last-minute replacement for an injured Jamie Laing.
“I suddenly received a call from my agent offering me the chance to do Strictly and I had to make the decision within an hour or two,” he told Radio Times magazine.
“I was doing a different job towards the end of the year so I had to change my plans, but it was a no-brainer.”
As he quite literally started on the back foot compared to the rest of the Strictly line-up, many assumed that he would be this year’s underdog; including partner Oti.
“I remember the first day we met and he was really quiet and shy,” she explained at the Strictly Come Dancing final press conference. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, what is going to happen?’
However, he soon proved everyone wrong after his unforgettable week one performance, changing the narrative around him from one of sympathy to being a stand out contender. As we know from previous series, Strictly favours a journey – and while Kelvin hasn’t necessarily had a Stacey Dooley-esque transformation on the dancefloor, he’s definitely had to prove himself behind-the-scenes in the initial run-up to the show.
Strictly has also allowed us to see a side of Kelvin beyond just being that buff farmer from Emmerdale – or not even that.
“No one knew who you were and no one knew what to expect,” Oti said to Kelvin at the Strictly press day, before quickly adding, “In this capacity.”
“I think what has been so special and different was that every single day we were still trying to get to know each other.
“I think people knew Kelvin as Andy [Sugden] and Strictly gave him the opportunity and everybody at home to get to know Kelvin – his family, his character and what he’s about.”
It helps that despite the nationwide drooling over his dancing, Kelvin has managed to stay a shy, modest and relatively reluctant sex symbol.
“It is amazing, and I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he told RadioTimes.com after his samba.
“When I saw the reaction, I know we’d done well, and then we got some great comments. It was a crazy few days.”
He added before the final: “Seeing the impact Strictly has made on people’s lives…I think being a part of that you feel so privileged. And then when this ends at the weekend, I feel I’ll always have a part with me.
“This is the best thing I’ve done in many ways, it has changed my life. It has just been absolutely incredible.”
The last few winners of Strictly have been somewhat divisive, so this time, let’s avoid another controversial vote and make sure it’s Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse who take the title.
Strictly Come Dancing concludes Saturday 14thDecember at 7:05pm on BBC One