After 141 dances, 3962 training hours, and 15 weeks – everything has led up to this moment in Strictly Come Dancing.
There’s one night left for the four celebrity finalists to dance their way to the top, to win the coveted Glitterball and be crowned the winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2017.
Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee, Gemma Atkinson and Joe McFadden - the four finalists had three different performances each, to win over audiences. The first dance is picked by the judges, a routine the couple performed in the series that they would like to see again.
For Alexandra, it was the American Smooth from Movie Week – in which she scored ‘33’. “I absolutely love the way you bring life to characters”, judge Bruno Tonioli said – while Craig Revel Horwood was convinced they’re capable of achieving full marks for it this time round.
After the performance, head judge Shirley Ballas praised Alexandra’s feminine side, praising it as “exquisite”. The singer was complimented on her beauty, style, elegance and honesty by Bruno.
Resident Grinch, Craig, flexed his comic muscles, dubbing the performance “dreadful” because “I couldn’t find anything wrong with it”. Unsurprisingly, after comments like that – Alexandra and her parter Gorka Marquez received the first perfect score of the night.
For Debbie McGee’s judge chosen dance, she took on her salsa again with her partner Giovanni Pernice. First time round, the performer struggled with a few incredibly ambitious lifts. But here, as promised, the pair pulled out all the stops: Debbie was swinigng, flying and soaring across the dancefloor in Giovanni’s arms.
But before getting her perfect score - live TV slip-ups like ’prounouncement’ and ‘periphial’ reminded us that good dancing does not always entail faultless grammar...
Revisiting one of their most iconic performances with the paso doble to Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’, Gemma Atkinson and her partner Aljaz Skorjanec went off to a fiery start.
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“The mind is like a parachute” Shirley told Gemma, praising her open mind and growth over the series – a sentiment fans agree with.
Holby City actor Joe McFadden also went back to Movie Week as he took on his Viennese Waltz one more time.
The gliding routine to the theme of Doctor Zhivago only gained more elegance and charm (despite losing the impressive moustache), so many weeks later. Moving up from Week 3, Joe and Katya scored ‘39’.
The next challenge of the dance was the ‘Show Dance’, in which there were no rules and everything was up for grabs.
For Alexandra’s show dance there were elements of Argentine Tango, Charleston, lifts, glitter, tricks and a whole lot of showbusiness in her dance to ‘There’s No Business Like Showbusiness’.
Channelling her ballet roots, Debbie McGee performed a beautifully elegant show dance to ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’.
The dance channelled all the grace, magic and spine-tingling lightness that has got her to this point. And it wouldn’t be a complete Debbie McGee performance without the splits, naturally.
As a former ballet dancer herself, Debbie was not exempt from potential criticism from ex-ballerina and judge Darcey Bussell. But from Darcey, and the other judges, Debbie received nothing but praise for the elegance, beauty and precision.
However, fans on Twitter were less impressed about the reminder of Debbie’s past experience.
In Gemma’s show dance, a bit of Foxtrot, Quickstep, Charleston and American Smooth all came out to play – but it was all about Gemma. In the Cabaret-styled performance, the performer was fierce and powerful, despite tripping up on the odd lift.
She took centre stage and owned the floor, proving her incredible progress since the first few weeks on the show.
For his show dance, Joe took to the floor with a simultaneously traditional and gorgeously inventive ode to Cinderella – to the tune of Hall & Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’.
The performance demonstrated Joe’s growth and also Katya’s ever impressive choreography – as it’s also the first ever Strictly final for the professional dancer. Three costume changes and some incredible comments saw Joe and Katya’s performance earn a near-perfect ’39’.
The third and final performance for each celebrity was a revisiting of their favourite dance of the season. For hers, Alexandra performed the effervescent Tina Turner jive that blew everyone away in Week 4.
Even more impressive second time round, Alexandra’s final performance on Strictly channelled all the joy she says she felt throughout the competition.
In a difficult year for Alexandra following the loss of her mother, it was an emotional final performance, truly deserving of the ‘40’ it was given.
Channelling the confidence the exuded in performing the first Argentine Tango of the series, Debbie took on the iconic, electric routine for a second time in her final performance.
Since losing her husband Paul Daniels only last year, Strictly Come Dancing effectively showcases Debbie in the spotlight - and her Argentine Tango more than anything else. And yes, she did the splits. And the judges pointed out how great she is for her age.
It would have been rude to forget the Strictly trip to Blackpool, and for her favourite performance of the series Gemma Atkinson revisited her ‘Downtown’ routine.
Judges praised Gemma’s journey and progress throughout the series, remembering the Blackpool routine as her turning point. “She’s still going, she’s still glowing”, Bruno began to sing as the ballroom lit up for Gemma.
For Joe’s final performance, he performed his playful toy-drum themed Charleston - featuring arguably the best costumes of the series. Throughout the competition Joe has impressed fans with his growth – although some are keen to point out that the actor also has dancing experience.
However, this didn’t stop the judges noticing his incredible talent, as Craig simply dubbed the final performance “fabulous” – making sure that the whole ballroom could chant it in unison.
After some impressive comments praising a tight, energetic performance, Joe finally earned a perfect ‘40’, closing the night of individual performances.
Following comments from fans and celebrities, the Strictly stars and celebrities took to the floor one last time, in an incredible mashup of everyone’s most memorable moments. Rev Richard Coles on a cloud with a harp, Ruth Langsford‘s garish samba outfit, Aston and Janette’s jawdropping lift sequence – so many highlights closed a fantastic year.
But only one could win, and after another incredibly series the Glitterball was awarded to the very last man standing: Joe McFadden won Strictly Come Dancing 2017.
After an incredibly 13-week rollercoaster of performing, dancing, shining and reporting – this where the stars, the dancers, and this writer leave you.
Up next, the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special is coming up on Christmas Day, but until then you know what to do. Just keep dancing...
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