Strictly Come Dancing airs after ‘tough day’

The live Strictly Come Dancing final began with reference to a “tough day”, after Christmas plans were scrapped for millions.

The finalists and professionals took part in a sequence to open the last show in the series.

Co-host Tess Daly told millions of viewers: “If ever people needed cheering up, it’s now.

“After another tough day, we are going to try our very best to keep you entertained with an unforgettable night of dance.”

The BBC’s continuity announcer said Strictly had brought viewers together during difficult months.

“In a year that’s kept us apart, whether you’re watching in Tyne and Wear, Devon, Berkshire or Lincolnshire, we’re all watching BBC One together,” he said.

Four couples – HRVY and Janette Manrara, Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse, Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer, and Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez – are competing to lift the glitterball trophy.

The Duchess of Cornwall makes an appearance on the show.

Camilla appears in a pre-recorded clip speaking about the joy of the BBC show, as part of a video compilation of messages from viewers and celebrities.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood, known for his sharp tongue, referenced the Prime Minister’s announcement, following the rapid spread of the new variant coronavirus.

“In light of the recent news, I’ve decided I’m going to be positive. You may not recognise me,” he said.

Comedian Bailey, who will become Strictly’s oldest winner if he succeeds, and Oti Mabuse performed their quickstep as their first dance on the final.

Judge Shirley Ballas said “everything was absolutely spot on”.

She asked: “How do you move so lightly .. across that floor, it’s just beyond me. It’s absolutely fantastic… You had the wingspan of an eagle.”

HRVY kicked off the show with a jive and earlier said if he wins the competition he will give the trophy to his grandmother.

The 21-year-old singer and social media star would be the youngest winner of the show.

Speaking ahead of the final, HRVY, real name Harvey Cantwell, said: “On the night of the final it’s my nan and grandad’s 60th diamond jubilee wedding anniversary.

“They have watched every single Strictly, every single show, never missed a show since the beginning. I said to my nan, genuinely, ‘if I win and I get a glitterball you can put it in your house, on your fireplace’.

“What I’d do is I’d take a picture of it with me next to it and I’d have that in my house, but I honestly will give the glitterball to my nan because she loves Strictly so much it would actually make her life.”

Strictly Come Dancing finalists Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey
Strictly Come Dancing finalists Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey

Reality TV star Laing and Karen Hauer’s first dance in the final was their performance of a Charleston.

Laing had been in the dance off four times.

The couples perform three dances during the show, two of which they have already done earlier in the competition.

Gorka Marquez and Maisie Smith
Gorka Marquez and Maisie Smith

EastEnders actress Smith, who would also be the youngest winner if she wins, and her professional partner Gorka Marquez impressed the judges when they performed their samba.

Gymnast Louis Smith is currently the youngest champion, having lifted the glitterball trophy in 2012 when he was 23.

This year’s finale also sees the return of Nicola Adams and Katya Jones to the dancefloor.

The couple made history as the show’s first same-sex couple but had to withdraw early after Jones received a positive Covid-19 test result.

This year’s series also saw Anton Du Beke make his debut as a judge.