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Brendan Cole gives final Strictly verdict: What a night!

Congratulations to our new Strictly champions...

brendan cole
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Well it was a big show and we certainly saw everything we'd expect from a Strictly final, apart from that tiff with the judges. Having a go at a judge for not giving a 9 or a 10 is quite a risk and one that I thought may have swayed the public to vote another way. Also, the chap in question ran the risk of showing a perhaps 'not so squeaky clean' side to the Strictly viewers. Dangerous stuff in a fluffy final, Kevin!

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But the results are in and it didn’t matter… It’s Kevin who finally lifts the Glitterball Trophy. I think Stacey was there as well, but it seemed that the night belonged to Kevin in his fifth attempt to win the show. Clearly Stacey and Kevin were the people’s champions after finishing bottom with the judges and, as I predicted a few weeks back in my Hello! Magazine column, they were almost a sure thing. I must say, after watching last night’s show, there was a small part of me that thought maybe, just maybe, one of the others would take it, as we saw some outstanding dances from the other three gracious couples (yes I said it - three, even Joe and Diane pulled out a great show dance and for the first time I can almost agree with the score of a 10 for it… call it Final Positivity). Regardless of how anyone danced last night, making the final and putting together a new and exciting show dance and perfecting the other two performances is a massive achievement from all and they must be congratulated on a job well done.

karen clifton hugs kevin clifton© Photo: BBC

My winners of the night could’ve been Ashley and Pasha or Faye and Giovanni. They all danced out of their skins and demonstrated a master class of how a final should be performed. Ashley and Pasha’s contemporary show dance was risky, clever, exciting, unique and showed incredible skill and artistry, while Faye and Giovanni’s American Smooth style Showdance was beautiful, elegant and classy with proper old school glamour. Both showed how to deliver on the big night and in my eyes were the winners, week after week.

Ashley has come under a lot of criticism for being a trained dancer and I’m often asked my opinion on the subject, so let me tell you where I stand. In any given Strictly show, you need all different levels of talent and abilities. If every contestant was a novice, the show would be boring, if every contestant had dance experience, the show would be 'dull dull dull darling'. You need the good, the bad and the ugly to make Strictly what it is and as far as I’m concerned, if the BBC have invited someone to take part, they deserve to be there and would be a fool to say no just because they can dance. It is indeed the BBC who should take the flack for these decisions, not the likes of Ashley. Here is why I think she really deserved her place in the show… Last night, she demonstrated another level of precision and ability that simply blew me away. The aim throughout the series is to improve week after week and Ashley continued to do this from start to finish. Ashley and Pasha may not have lifted the trophy last night but their degree of precision and their outstanding performance in the final may never be equalled again. If that doesn’t belong in Strictly then it’s a shame for the show and future contestants that might say no when asked. For me, she shone last night and deserved every cheer and 10 she received.

READ: Karen Clifton expresses love for ex Kevin Clifton in emotional strictly post

Speaking of 10s and potential winners, Faye and Giovanni were sublime last night! Their Showdance was outstanding and magical to watch and their Theatre Jazz was probably my favourite dance of the entire series so I’m glad we got to see that again. She has shown class throughout the series has been beautiful to watch. I say it often but when you get a performance that you wish you could be in, then it’s being done to perfection. I loved the lighting, the costuming, the theming and I loved them. Their Viennese Waltz wasn’t my favourite as the top line was a little funny (mostly from my mate Gio) but it still deserved the marks it received and the praise it got.

faye and gio© Photo: BBC

Back to the winners and I’m really glad we got to see Stacey and Kevin’s Paso Doblé again in the final. Another highlight of the series for me and last night I do believe it was even better than when they performed it in the series. It must feel weird getting the lowest scores and still winning but I hope for them they can savour the Paso as a fine moment in a big final and one that allowed them to compete with the others. I think Kevin’s choreography has been great throughout the show and, as I said, he played it perfectly in his climb to the top.

I’d like to say congratulations to the team behind the scenes. Hair, costume, makeup, lighting, music, production… all that contribute something to allow the couples to shine week after weeks deserve all the praise in the world. It’s an incredible team and the effort put in is amazing.

In my final paragraph of this column, I’d like to say thank you to all of my readers and Hello Magazine! for your support. In the very beginning, watching Strictly and commenting on it was a little odd for me but your lovely comments (and the odd critical one) have been great to receive and I’ve loved giving you my opinion on the show. So here’s to another fantastic series of Strictly, let’s raise a glass to all who took part, but in particular the winners of 2018! Congratulations Stacey and Kevin the 2018 Champions!

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