So, after an episode of Casualty featuring Sean Hughes, La Prenj and Dr Browning from Hollyoaks, and a Lottery update in which Ore Oduba seemed to have insider knowledge that Frankie Bridge finished in second place last year (I'm kidding, off-hand remarks on other shows are not canon, don't write in) we're back in the ballroom. The top four are all dressed ready to perform their couples' choice dances (Jay - paso, Georgia - charleston, Kellie - also charleston, Katie - Viennese waltz) and Tess reminds us that one of them will have changed clothes for no reason because one couple is about to finish in fourth place.
Special Truncated Top-Four-Only Final Titles!
Tess and Claudia have also changed outfits: Claudia is wearing a strangely summery burgundy strapless dress, and Tess is inexplicably wearing an Ellen DeGeneres-style white trouser suit [I thought she looked great, however unlikely an outfit choice it was - Rad]. Claudia confirms that the vote is frozen (and has been ever since Prenj was wheeled into Holby City A&E, more or less) so we must not vote now, as our votes will not count but we may still be charged. Which is also true if at any point you voted for someone other than Jay. I'm suddenly nervous for Kellie here, because while I think she easily did enough to propel herself past fourth place in the main show (and her odds came in impressively during the break to the point where she breezed past Georgia into second place), she has not yet proven herself to have any sort of reliable fanbase (even last week, it's mathematically possible for her to have been bottom of the public vote) and she is also dressed as Princess Leia Organa, and to have to leave dressed like that for no good reason would be kind of humiliating.
Tess teases an upcoming performance from Ellie Goulding and the reunion performance for the class of 2015, but before we get to the results, it's time for our behind-the-scenes glimpse from earlier. Len declares it "the tightest final ever", making it a whole 12 months since he last said that, Katie describes the whole atmosphere backstage as "fantastic" and Georgia declares this the biggest night of her life. Aliona congratulates Jay on recovering from his quickstep mistakes, Georgia says something that sounds like "fantastic" in response to her rumba feedback but it all happens so quickly it's impossible to be sure, Kellie screams about getting 40, Katie shrugs off her quickstep, Aliona has loved every little second with Jay, Giovanni is really proud of Georgia, Kellie is having her best day ever, and Anton declares Katie's showdance "epic". There wasn't really a lot of notable backstage action this week, was there?
Tess has got her cue cards, so someone's going home. The couple with the fewest votes, finishing in fourth place, is...Katie and Anton. The top three applaud her, Katie blows kisses to her family, and Katie's Awesome Daughter Natasha is seen saying something to her dad which might well be "fair enough". Tess tells Katie she is "leaving as a finalist with your head held high", and Katie says she can't quite believe that she's here in the final, having descended from the ceiling "in a spangly box, like a pop star". She's absolutely chuffed to bits, and declares it the right decision for her to be leaving now, and I like that I can totally believe that she honestly feels that way. Katie thanks Anton for teaching her to dance, and says that he's had to put up with some bumps in the road, but he's been very patient, and she will be forever grateful to him. We look back over Katie's Best Bits, which strangely don't include her surprisingly competent week one jive, but her undoubted highlight is being at the top of the leaderboard in week 4 with her Viennese waltz because no one will ever be able to take that away from her. Katie thanks everyone one last time and heads up to the read-only section of the ballroom in the Clauditorium.
Trying to get things back on track, Tess reminds us of the three couples still remaining, but pauses for applause after each one and none comes until she gets to Kellie and Kevin at the end. (This is clearly just the audience being off their game rather than an indication of who's got support, but it does make me giggle when I think of that DS poster earlier this year who claimed that they had to move Jay to the end when they introduce all the couples at the beginning of the show, because the screams for him were just so much louder than they were for everyone else and it was making everyone who walked on after him look bad...and then everybody else pointed out that Jay had always been the penultimate person to walk out anyway and therefore became the last one by default after Kirsty - who had been the only person walking out after him - got eliminated.) Claudia informs us that the vote has been re-opened, and that the totals from earlier have been carried over as well.
Up next to perform their favourite(ish) routine of the series, it's Jay and Aliona, who will be reprising their paso doble. Do you know, at the start of the week, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was for nobody to do a paso in the final, because at that point Anita had the highest score for it, and I thought that, considering she was pretty undermarked for the most part, it would be nice for her to at least have one highest-score to her name at the end of the series. And I thought she'd be pretty safe, because obviously Jay would do his jive and obviously Georgia would do her charleston, and obviously Katie would do her Viennese waltz and...well, I wasn't sure what Kellie was going to do but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be her paso. And then this happened. THANKS A LOT, JAY. [WHY this? His tango was also way better even if he wasn't going to reprise the jive. Even his rumba would have done, I guess. Not only was Anita robbed, I feel we were robbed as an audience of seeing the winner doing one of his best dances, because there was nothing memorable about his paso - Rad]
In his VT, Jay says he thought doing Strictly would just be all showbiz, and he didn't realise just how much blood, sweat and tears would be involved, and that was just the time that somebody posted the wrong bottom two on the Digital Spy spoiler thread. Jay and Aliona were very excited to be paired, and Jay says that they got on really well because they were both so similar. Aliona calls Jay "the best dance partner [she's] ever had" for about the ninetieth time this week. Justice for Tony Jacklin! Did you not appreciate that free trip to Florida you got out of it?! Looking back at his opening cha cha cha, Jay thinks he looked "like this huge mountain of hair". Then the haircut happened, then the Holy Jive happened, and then this basically became a fight to see who got to finish joint-runner-up to Jay. Jay says that Strictly has made his mum more proud of him than ever, though we should probably bear in mind that prior to this his main claim to fame was being the one at the back in the boyband mostly notable for all having different-shaped faces. Speaking of which, Rhombus and Square turn up to say how proud they are of him. Oval--sorry, "Jay"--says that being able to lift the glitterball would be an amazing end to his journey.
So, why hasn't Jay picked the jive for this round? Well, it's because
My pleas fall on deaf ears, so we have to see their paso to 'It's My Life' again. I would recap it, but you know what? I already recapped it once, and I recapped it to the best of my ability, and I really don't think I could improve on that recap, so I'm not going to recap it again. Instead, I'm going to recap this piece of toast. What a lovely piece of toast. I'm spreading Bertolli Light on it, and then some Marmite. I put it on a plate without cutting the toast. Then I pour myself a refreshing glass of milk, and I eat the lovely toast, which is delicious, occasionally stopping to drink the milk. It's not as technically precise as I would have liked (crumbs all around my mouth, for starters), but it's still very enjoyable. And that was my piece of toast. I know you came here to read my recap of Jay's paso, you guys, and I'm sorry, but I just have to be true to myself as an artist.
Len says that Jay has been the most consistent of all the contestants (like that time he scored 37 for his jive and then one week later scored 25 for his quickstep? Okay Len) because he's just given his all to every dance. This was powerful, aggressive and clean, and Len's loved watching Jay dance. Bruno says it was more loaded with power and artistry than ever, and Jay has perhaps the best arm movements he's ever seen on the show. Craig tells Jay that he had no personality when he started, and now he has drive, passion and he dances brilliantly. I mean, still none of those things are a personality Craig, but let's just get on, I've got places to go. Darcey loved the confidence that he brought onto the dancefloor, and declares him "number one in my book" [by virtue of having a penis - Rad].
Jay heads up to the Clauditorium where Claudia reminds him that at the beginning of the competition he was so scared he couldn't even talk to anyone, but look what he just did. Jay jokes that he's heavily tranquilised, and says that whatever happens now, that was the perfect end for him. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. #justiceforanita
Georgia and Giovanni are to follow that with their Chicago-themed charleston, and Chicago may or may not be Georgia's favourite song/movie/country this week, Tess doesn't actually clarify. Georgia has loved being on Strictly and will never forget it - her highs included being top of the leaderboard with her charleston, and her lows included being in the dance-off in the quarter-final. She's been quite surprised with her progress because, coming into the show, she thought she would be all about the latin and crap at ballroom, and indeed her week two waltz didn't go terribly well, but then she had a transformative moment in her ballroom with her American smooth in Blackpool. She says she's not used to getting instant reactions from an audience "being an actress in TV", but now that she's experienced it she wants to go into theatre. Georgia's proud parents appear, and her mum says that Georgia "bursts my heart" (aww), and Georgia hopes she could repay their faith in her by winning the competition. She tells us once again that she and her Joe Varney have been like brother and sister, including the occasional fight, and she really wants to do her charleston again because that was the point when she really started to feel like a dancer. She got 39 the first time around, but she knows she can do it better. You hear that, Jay? 39 first time around, and she knows she can do it better.
So Georgia and Giovanni do their charleston to 'Hot Honey Rag' once again, and I'm glad that they at least have an idea of how to end on a crowdpleaser because this is absolutely the one I would have voted for them to reprise. If I'm honest, I've always found Georgia a little bit dull even when I've been marvelling at the beauty of her performances, but she just completely comes alive in this one - the energy and joy absolutely shines out of her, and it's the perfect marriage of choreography and personality. She's absolutely fearless here too, hurling herself into some dangerous lifts and looking completely relaxed the whole way through. Watching this through for a second time, I'm actually getting goosebumps, it's that good. Let's just put it this way: Georgia's mum isn't the only one welling up when it's over. Well-played, Georgia May Foote. Well-played indeed.
Bruno tells them this was a "sparkling cracker of a charleston", and she's taken all of the Fosse references and put them in the right place and made them her own. She's really shown how she's grown as a dancer and a performer with great range. Craig tells her she has been extraordinary, and he thinks she's had one of the biggest journeys on the programme, from being a little bit insecure to learning how to tell stories through dance, and he would be very, very proud to put her into "any of my West End shows". Georgia cries with joy, and I assume she's trying to figure out if this legally constitutes a binding verbal contract. How many West End shows does Craig actually have, though? Darcey says it was full of "the naughty little Georgia that we like", not that she's patronising her at all, and she nailed it. Len says that he wrote down "pure joy" as she was dancing, and he calls her "a little fireball". He says that if he's ever asked what makes a terrific charleston, he's going to tell people to watch this one. Yeah, take that Hollins!
Georgia runs up to the Clauditorium, using her hat to hide her tear-stained face (hee), and Claudia cautions Georgia to make sure she watches Craig's shows before she signs any contracts. Ha! (Helen absolutely cracks up at this, which makes me laugh even more.) Claudia checks where Giovanni's crying, and he insists he isn't. He says he's so proud of Georgia for being amazing at dancing everything, including the charlesssston. Scores: Craig 10, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 40. Anything less would've been a crime. Georgia says that's a fantastic way to finish, and Giovanni says that he is over, over, over, OVER the moon. Bless.
The last couple of the series to dance is Kellie and Kevin. Also doing a charleston. After that. Now, I loved Kellie's Star Wars charleston, I think it was a good choice of dance to go out on in light of recent pop cultural events, I'm delighted we get to see it again...but the running order absolutely did her in here, because having to follow Georgia's perfect-score charleston with one that's a lot sillier and more knockabout is, I imagine, going to do serious damage to Kellie's momentum. Ah well. She was never going to win anyway. [Shame they didn't reprise this in show one and their AS in show two as that was a proper showstopping, pandering for votes number - Rad]
In her VT, Kellie says that doing Strictly is one of the best things she's ever done, and Kevin says they've just genuinely had a brilliant time. One of Kellie's personal highlights was Blackpool, because she got to dance with five boys instead of one, and Kevin praises Kellie for just running with whatever daft idea he had on any given week. He thinks she's been the perfect partner. Kellie loved getting to do some proper Fred 'n' Ginge for her American smooth, and she feels so lucky that she got to do this show with Kevin Clifton of the Grimsby Cliftons. She wells up a little bit when she thinks about how much Kevin has given her (phrasing), even to the point of holding her up when she was too exhausted to stand, and he never raised his voice or got cross with her. Danny Dyer says she deserves to win, "no disrespect to none of the other finalists", and Kellie's cute husband says that she's amazing and he's very proud of her. They've chosen their charleston to close their time on the show because they had so much fun doing it, and it feels like a fitting end because they get to be überdorks one last time. Kellie says that as far as she's concerned, they're winners whatever happens. Which is just as well.
So they charleston one last time to 'Cantina Band' (which is apparently actually called 'Mad About Me' - who knew?), and I still love this routine. I love the way they flip a switch and turn from serious intergalactic rebels into goofy charleston dancers, I love the little performance accents that they give it, I love the shit-eating grins they both have as they do a little shimmy right down the camera, I love how the whole thing really doesn't make any sense at all and yet is somehow completely compelling all the same. My only reservations are that they're still not quite synchronised in some of the side-by-side sections, and that I still feel that the dance fizzles out a little bit - the final lift is very anticlimactic, and I rather hoped that, since this would be the close of the series as far as the performances were concerned, Kevin might have made it into something more snazzy. But, as ever, I understand that Kellie has two jobs and is exhausted and that there probably just wasn't time.
Kellie's overjoyed and, I think, mostly relieved when it's all over and Karen's welling up again on the balcony. Tess asks if they could be worthy winners based on that, and Craig says that everyone in the final now deserves it. Judicious use of "now" there, Craig. He thinks Kellie is one of the most exciting performers on the show, and her energy and commitment have been extraordinary. Darcey calls her the princess of precision, and was impressed once again with the precision and synchronicity of the performance, and calls it "perfection". Len says that he loves watching them, they bring joy to his heart, and he thinks Kellie deserves to win. Bruno says that this was even better the second time around because he could appreciate the wit, the inventiveness and the attention to detail. He's loved the quirky details they've been putting in all season, and the way they've continued to surprise him all series long. He thinks she can deliver the ace when she's required to, and that's worthy of a champion.
They force themselves up to the Clauditorium, where Kellie says that she loves Len too, and she adds there were a few dances she considered choosing - with Kevin adding that she tried to get him to do 'Boom! Shake The Room' - but this one just felt like it summed them up somehow. She thinks that the whole experience won't hit her until it's over and she can sit back with a cup of tea, but it's been wonderful and she's loved every single second of it. Scores are in: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. Kellie says she's very happy with that, but there are shouts within the Clauditorium that it was undermarked. (I don't think so, there's no way they could've marked it on a par with Georgia's, and I say that as someone who voted for Kellie to win nine times.)
Final, irrelevant leaderboard?
1. Kellie & Kevin - 40 + 40 + 39 = 119
2. Georgia & Giovanni - 36 + 36 + 40 = 112
3. Jay & Aliona - 36 + 35 + 39 = 110
Claudia tells everyone to grab their favourite prop from the series as she reads the terms and conditions one last time, and Jamelia and Kirsty realise they don't have any props within reach, so they just grab each other. Heh.
After a recap of all of our top three's performances, it's time to find out what the public liked best about this year's show in a filler VT. They included: the porn train, Daniel O'Donnell's quiff, Jeremy's dad dancing, the new pros, Gleb, the Gleb Special, the thought of being held by Giovanni, Oti even though she went out early, Movie Week, Peter Andre being sexy, Kirsty dressing up as a dog, The Holy Jive, Blackpool, Anita's paso, Anton making the final, the female celebrities in general, Carol living her best life, Helen George being lush, Jamelia being a trouper despite her dance-off woes, Musicals Week, Georgia's paso, watching with their grans, Darcey, Craig mellowing, Len's one-liners, Bruno falling off his chair, thinking about Strictly 2016. (Imagine your actual highlight of the series being Georgia's paso, though. Imagine.)
Then in "sing up, luv" corner we have Ellie Goulding performing 'Love Me Like You Do' and somehow managing to be nearly inaudible despite singing right into a microphone. Thank goodness Oti and Gleb and Aljaž and Janette are here to do some showboating right in front of her and make this somehow not a waste of everyone's time.
And that's it - Tess declares the lines officially closed, so while the independent adjudicators tot up just how many million votes Jay has won by, it's time for us to check back in with the class of 2015. Anita says that nothing in her life could have prepared her for Strictly, and Helen can only barely remember stepping off The Porn Train during the launch show. Anthony felt like a star for a little while. Kirsty remembers being scared as the partners were being handed out, and Anita remembers wanting to be partnered with Gleb when she first saw him, while Carol wanted Pasha from the off. Ainsley remembers how hard the working was, and Jamelia remembers doubting her dance ability on the first day of training. Peter recalls being stressed every Monday worrying if he was ever going to get the routine, and Kirsty now has a Pavlovian fear of Alan Dedicoat's voice. Anthony remembers his trousers splitting during his jive, Carol remembers forgetting her cha cha cha, Jamelia remembers being desperate for validation, Ainsley longs to drag all the judges into the kitchen and tell them they're chopping an onion wrong. Peter remembers getting his first 10 from Len, Jamelia loved getting into character for the theme weeks, Helen particularly loved being Marilyn Monroe for movie week. Peter still gets kids telling him that they loved him as Captain Jack Sparrow. (Yes, Peter actually mentioned kids without telling us that he loves his. Perhaps he really is evolving.) Daniel loved being Danny Zukko with his Tea-Birds, Carol loved having two Pashas fighting over her for Hallowe'en VT purposes, and Jeremy realises how sad he was after he got eliminated because he'd had so much fun. Everyone loved each other and nobody wanted to see anyone go home, and Anita thinks she's one of the luckiest people on Earth because she's one of the few to have "the Strictly experience" and she will treasure it forever. Daniel tries to mimic Craig's "fab-u-lous" and sounds so very bored, and then everyone tries to sum up the experience in one word: Jamelia goes for "rollercoaster", Anthony for "exciting", Ainsley for "unique", Carol for "exhilarating", Daniel for "amazing", Kirsty for "incredible", Jeremy for "overpowering", Peter for "fantabadosa", Anita for "exhausting", Helen for "unforgettable" and Iwan for "fabulous". I wonder how many of them picked a word someone else had already chosen and had to come up with another one, like on Family Fortunes.
That seems like as good a cue as any for the class of 2015 to return to the floor, doesn't it? They're dancing ("dancing", in some cases, with thanks as ever to Jamelia for the sarcasm-quotes) to 'Do You Love Me' by the Contours, and it starts with Daniel, sitting in the Clauditorium and weeping over a pillow with Kristina's face on it and Iwan doing the same to one of Ola, with Ainsley offering them each a tissue. Well, you could certainly read this little tableau in more than one way, couldn't you? Then Pasha, Gleb, Tristan, Jeremy, Brendan and Aljaž appear, and it could just be the camera position, but it looks as though Iwan accidentally hits Aljaž in the face. They lip-sync to the chorus and part to reveal Ola doing her final dance EVER on the show atop the chairs and Iwan doing the worm. Anthony throws a few punches inside a mocked-up boxing ring with Oti, Karen, Janette, Joanne and Natalie dancing around, and I'm no doctor but I still don't think his shoulder has fully recovered. Daniel skips by apparently doing some sort of ceilidh with Kristina, and then the music transitions into 'I Only Want To Be With You' as Ainsley stands by the judges' desk while Tristan, Aljaž and Gleb wave cards with green peppers and red tomatoes on them. Gleb clearly has no idea what any of this means and is just grinning his way through it, and I love him for it. Brendan and Kirsty chomp on the same strand of spaghetti, but thankfully Kirsty is not dressed as a dog this time. Carol holds up a glittery umbrella while Gleb, Aljaž and Tristan conga past and chuck glitter at her (life goals, right here) and then Pasha descends on a cloud again! Jeremy rides in on a horse pushed by Brendan and Tristan and attempts to lasso Karen, but pulls in Craig instead, brandishing his 3 paddle. Then, in possibly my favourite part of the whole routine, Jamelia leads all the female pros (minus Aliona, of course) in a 'Proud Mary' jive and even does an assisted somersault with Tristan, and then Peter just gets to...run across the stage. Hee. Helen swoops in to be borne aloft by Aljaž and Anita gets one last Gleb Special and then finally everybody assembles for a dramatic end pose. You know, it really was a good cast this year. [Except Iwan. And Antony's shoulder. - Rad]
We go from that into a teaser trailer for the Christmas special, which is apparently going to contain some fairly terrifying costumes and special guest star Shirley Bassey. Yes to all that.
The end is in sight as the class of 2015 joins Claudia in the Clauditorium, where Daniel says that he's been singing to everyone via video message when they've been stressed late at night. Helen says she's really missed being with everyone, and it's been really emotional watching those clips back. Claudia asks Jeremy what people say to him in the street now, and he answers an entirely different question by saying how much everyone has loved their professional partners (obviously not IN THAT WAY, no scandal here, although he says that he did hug Craig earlier so maybe the Strictly curse has a new form now?). Carol says she's so proud of everyone and they're all winners as far as she's concerned. Ainsley says this has been a really special year in terms of the camaraderie, and everyone's been so cheerful - even Tess and Claudia. Claudia asks Peter who the naughtiest person was during group rehearsals, and Peter says it was absolutely Iwan. And that's that.
Just to make sure there is absolutely no danger of, say, having time to reveal who is in third place and having a quick exit chat with them before revealing the winner, we get a VT of the judges talking about the top three. What is even left to say at this point? It's been such a close competition (lies), everyone's been so extraordinary, Georgia has learned how to ballroom, Jay is the last man standing, Jay is for Jayourney, That Jive, Kellie is full of joy and a brilliant performer, apparently nobody else could've done that Viennese waltz, she's a fighter and never gives up, all of them are technically great and great performers, they all deserve to win.
It's time for that final result. The Strictly Come Dancing champions of 2015 are...Jay and Aliona, of course. Kellie and Georgia both put up a good fight at the end, but the Jay train has been rolling for 10 weeks now and there was no way of stopping it. Like I said earlier, I think he's been good across the series, but I really wish it had felt like he'd actually turned up for this final, because he kind of sleepwalked through it and, on the basis of the dances performed tonight, he doesn't feel like the right winner, which is a shame. As it is, he joins Darren, Tom, Chris and Louis in the ranks of celebrities to win from the bottom of the leaderboard, and Natasha, Darren, Alesha, Tom and Kara in the ranks of celebrities who won without ever receiving a perfect score and... I dunno, I feel like both of these could have been fairly easily avoided?
Anyway, to the runners-up: Georgia just wanted to get to the final and she's done that, and Giovanni tells her she's become an amazing dancer. Kellie has had the best time and she's glad she got to be here to the very end and do as many dances as possible. She wanted to entertain everybody, and she hopes she's done that. (Also, let's hope 2016 is finally the year where Kevin knows what position he finished in, eh?)
But Jay and Aliona are our champions, and Aliona is the first pro ever to win twice (lol). Jay says that he feels spaced out, and Aliona deserves this so much. It's been one of the most special things he's ever done, with the most special person, and he's really happy that people liked what he was doing. Claudia summons the rest of the cast back in and Jamelia's at the front, making a beeline for Kellie and Kevin. A weeping Jay gets lifted into the air on Aljaž's and Gleb's shoulders (what a way to go out, amirite?), 'Flashdance (What A Feeling)' plays, gold confetti erupts from the ceiling, Jay weeps some more, everybody hugs everybody, and we're done.
And that's it for the 2015 series, but Rad will be here at some point post-Christmas with a recap of the Christmas special. Thank you all for sticking with us once again, we really do appreciate your support and your comments, and we hope that you all get a Gleb special for Christmas. Bye!