- The BBC has sucked the spontaneity out of Strictly – time to bring back the 'live TV' edge
- From Stacey Dooley to Natasha Kaplinsky: Strictly Come Dancing winners - where are they now?
- Strictly's Anton Du Beke: 'I'd have loved to get Ann Widdecombe doing a streetdance'
The grand final saw perfect 10 paddles raised and tears fall.
Here are all the major talking points and social media reaction from this year’s climactic live show…
Super sub Kelvin Fletcher was a worthy winner
All the stats were on the soap actor-turned-racing driver's side coming into this final. He was the highest scorer in the contest, had topped the leaderboard three times in the past four weeks and was the bookies' odds-on favourite.
Yet former Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher and his pro partner Oti Mabuse still took risks in the final, with two exposing and technically tricky Latin dances performed out of hold. Their sensuous, seductive rumba left the judges swooning (and objectifying him in a cringe-making manner). Their hips-a-popping samba left them speechless.
The glitterball deal was surely sealed, however, by their spectacular showdance - the best of the night's three by a country mile. This jukebox-themed, jam-packed retro routine incorporated six different dance styles and many of their most memorable moments from the series, deservedly scoring a perfect 40 points.
The judges scored his arch rival Karim Zeroual - the other of the contest's 'Special Ks' - just ahead on the night but Kelvin was the deserving winner. Even more so when you consider that he had no prior dance experience, in contrast to his two fellow finalists, and wasn't even supposed to be in the contest.
He was parachuted into the contest at short notice when Jamie Laing injured his foot in the launch show. This turned out to be a ballroom blessing in disguise because Kelvin has emerged as the breakout star. He trained ferociously hard and discovered a true love of dance. He brought charisma and masculinity to every routine. He was the content's king of Latin but his ballroom became just as good.
A popular and worthy winner, then. Except possibly with acolytes of Anton du Beke.
This has been the best series of #StrictlyComeDancing2019 I can remember in terms of the standard of the dancing - and 3 worthy winners in the final— Johnny (@Johnny_Clements) December 14, 2019
But for his overall series performance I’ll be rooting for @kelvin_fletcher who has not only been phenomenal but seems a great guy
Humbled— Kelvin Fletcher (@kelvin_fletcher) December 14, 2019
Thank you for your votes ��
Thank you to my family ❤️
Thank you to @OtiMabuse
And a massive thank you to #Strictly for the opportunity ��
Team #Floti ����did it! ��#StrictlyFinal WINNERS 2019 �� pic.twitter.com/qdZc6Egq79
No fairytale ending for Emma and Anton
Some Strictly fans believed it was written in the stars. After 17 series of loyal hoofing service, this had been stalwart pro Anton du Beke's best ever year. He scored his first 10s and reached only his second final. Did he at last have a partner to take him all the way?
Not quite. EastEnders actress Emma Barton was a Strictly superfan who got all the way to the final but fell just short. She finished bottom of the scoreboard, albeit only by two points, but had been a tad overmarked out of sheer sentimentality.
Her Charleston was huge fun, her Viennese waltz was dreamily elegant and her showdance provide pure Hollywood glamour but her dancing simply wasn't up to the standard of her two rivals. She'd become an excellent ballroom performer but her Latin certainly wasn't up to champion standard.
Strictly viewers tend to make the right decisions in the end and they resisted the temptation to reward Tony Beak for 15 years of entertainment. Instead they backed the superior dancer.
Still, as the last celebrity female standing, Emma can be proud. As she sobbed to her proud partner: “King of Ballroom, thank you for letting me be your Queen.”
My #Strictly winner is @EmmaBarton. I feel she has progressed the most since the beginning of the show BUT I feel that @kelvin_fletcher will be crowned winner! Regardless I will be happy whoever wins!!— Laaurenn ... (@Laaurenn19) December 14, 2019
Karim topped scoreboard but lacked public popularity
CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual was the most naturally talented, technically superior dancer in the contest but that doesn't count for everything in Strictly world. He and pro partner Amy Dowden came into this final as the rank outsiders, after appearing in the dreaded dance-off twice in the past three weeks.
Their three routines in this final were remarkably accomplished. Their well-tailored quickstep dazzled, their Hairspray jive wowed and although their wafty contemporary showdance felt like an end-of-term show, the judges were impressed by its skill and storytelling.
Two perfect 40s and a 39 meant that Karim only dropped a single point out of 120 yet he still left many viewers cold. He was too good, too stage-schooled, lacked chemistry with Amy and was a little too luvvie-ish, forever weeping, over-emoting and thanking everyone a tad ostentatiously.
Karim is one hell of a dancer and a West End stage career might well beckon but he ultimately lacked warmth and likeability, always looking like a losing finalist rather than a champion. So it proved.
Wasn't the Judge's Choice supposed to be "a dance you didn't do well that you can improve"? The Quickstep got a 39! #scd— ❄️ BOUGHS OF HAYLEY �� (@fatherbananas) December 14, 2019
I love that jive so hard but will Karim and Amy please stop crying. #StrictlyFinal— Sarra Manning (@sarramanning) December 14, 2019
Perhaps just me, but Karim’s show dance just reminds me of sixth form drama class, where the body actions are all over exaggerated and bare feet are meant to make it contemporary!@kayzer_1 #StrictlyFinal#StrictlyComeDancing2019— Tom Owen (@stratfordtiger) December 14, 2019
Get Karim a hanky please and take a restraining order out on Tess to stop her petting him like an ikkle bunny wabbit. #StrictlyFinal— Helen Walmsley-J (@TheVintageYear) December 14, 2019
Anton du Beke should bow out on a high
The much-discussed Anton du Beke romp towards the glitterball trophy didn't quite materialise and rightly since it would have been a triumph for popularity over pure ability.
However, the King of Ballroom enjoyed his most successful Strictly series alongside partner Emma Barton. He came third with Lesley Garrett in the first ever series but since those were the days of two-way finals, he departed in the semis. Anton reached the 2015 final with Katie Derham in 2015 but they finished fourth. Here he went one better on both counts but the title proved a dance step too far.
There has been speculation about Anton hanging up his dancing shoes for years. He's now 53, 16 years senior to the next oldest male pro (Neil Jones). His lack of versatility and Latin ability is becoming more apparent with each passing series.
We would love dear old Anton to move onto the judging panel or perhaps a role on spin-off show It Takes Two but he might never get a better opportunity to depart the dancefloor with his head held high.
“But Anton has never won”— Elliot Gonzalez (@elliot_gonzalez) December 14, 2019
Neither has Oti or Amy. #StrictlyFinal
I actually think I want Emma and Anton to win. I think Emma is everything Strictly is about and I would love to see Anton win at last #StrictlyFinal— Jo Lindley (@Jolindley1906) December 14, 2019
No nepotism as Oti Mabuse deserved pro win
It was only the most churlish of commentators on social media who raised an eyebrow at the victory for professional dancer Oti Mabuse, due to the presence of her big sister Motsi on the judging panel. Oti and her celebrity partner Kelvin Fletcher got no favours and didn't need them anyway.
Three month ago, when her original partner Jamie Laing got crocked during the launch show, Oti wasn't even sure she'd get a replacement. Then Kelvin arrived, surprised everyone with that week one samba and suddenly they were strong contenders.
Oti has since coached and managed Kelvin expertly. She's choreographed routines that were tricky enough to challenge him and maintain improvement, harnessed his natural Latin ability, refined his ballroom technique and themed entertaining routines to exploit his acting ability.
'Team Floti', as they were dubbed, formed a hard-working, mutually respectful partnership, as evidenced by Kelvin flying Oti's mother over from South Africa as a surprise for the Blackpool show.
She arguably should have won three years ago with Danny Mac. Now, in her fifth series, the popular pro finally got her hands on the glitterball and it was grin-inducing to see.
Oti is the perfect human isn’t she? #StrictlyFinal— Allison Pearson (@allisonpearson) December 14, 2019
Just come off to stage to the news! CONGRATULATIONS @kelvin_fletcher AND @OtiMabuse WHAT WELL DESERVING WINNERS!!!!! Lots of love and glitter to you both!!!! @bbcstrictly#StrictlyFinalpic.twitter.com/qUsXBatoAu— Rylan Clark-Neal (@Rylan) December 14, 2019
Number of votes I wasted this week: 1. Number I didn’t: 6. MASSIVE cheers in this house for @OtiMabuse and Kelvin Fletcher. Astonishing winners against great competition and I’ve been wanting her to win for YEARS. #StrictlyFinal— Chris Addison (@mrchrisaddison) December 14, 2019
Taylor Swift added serious star wattage
Strictly's musical guests can be erratic in quality but the BBC bookers hit paydirt for this showpiece occasion. The presence of A-list Pennsylvania popstrel Taylor Swift in the ballroom was impressively starry and would have attracted many a younger viewer.
The birthday girl, who turned 30 yesterday, perched at the piano to perform her brilliant ballad "Lover”, while choreographic accompaniment came from six of the Strictly pros. This was classily low-key, spine-tingling stuff. Swifty Come Dancing, anyone?
TAYLOR SWIFT IS ON STRICTLY!!! TAYLOR SWIFT IS ON STRICTLY !!! I love Taylor Swift!! ������ #Strictly2019— Ice Crystal ❄�� (@ice_crystal) December 14, 2019
Twitter : "You're too old to love Taylor Swift, you massive numpty."
Shut up. ��
And Taylor Swift singing ‘Lover’. Perfect #StrictlyFinal.— Chris Addison (@mrchrisaddison) December 14, 2019
*wakes up from two-hour-long nap* OH MY GOD I LOVE LOVER SO MUUUUCH!! #scd— Kat! The Herald Angels Sing (@katbrown) December 14, 2019
Dying at #Strictly refusing to let Actual Taylor Swift pull focus from the dancers and making her play in the blurry background like a music teacher at a school carol concert pic.twitter.com/ecd9Geh8hO— Alice Jones (@alicevjones) December 14, 2019
Class of 2019 returned for rousing finale
It's always a celebratory moment in each final when the year’s eliminated contestants all return to the ballroom for one last group dance. Yet this reunion routine was particularly joyous. The enjoyably chaotic, crowd-pleasing number incorporated all their signature moves from the series.
Hence we were treated to Dev Griffin’s streetdancing genie, James Cracknell’s pancake-flipping, David James as Batman, Magic Mike Bushell on a fireman’s pole, Michelle Visage vogueing, Viscountess Emma Weymouth doing Downton Abbey, Anneka Rice running around, Alex Scott doing Sister Act, foxtrotting Saffron Barker, Catherine Tyldesley’s “Single Ladies” moves with Johannes Radebe and Chris Ramsey's 'Uptown Funk' salsa.
Will Bayley was supposed to be the sole absentee but even he surprised us by coming down from Aberdeen, where he was with his Paralympic team-mates for tomorrow’s Sports Personality Of The Year awards show, to join the fun.
It brought back memories, raised several chuckles and was an irresistible way to end the series.
In a parallel universe Michelle and Giovanni just descended the stairs as Morticia and Gomez; Johannes has even more sass lined up for his showdance; Alex is about to reprise one dance with Kevin and one with Neil; and Chris Ramsey is still living his best life #Strictly— Sid (@StrictlySid) December 14, 2019
No snark: I genuinely really enjoyed that. This wasn't one of my favourite series by a long stretch, but I really did like this cast #scd— Steven Perkins (@stevenperkins) December 14, 2019
This final group dance is very revealing of how far the good dancers come. James Cracknell, David James still dancing like dads at a wedding and if it were a charisma comp, one person would be living the Glitterball - @michellevisage!— Caroline Frost (@FrostReporter) December 14, 2019
Cracker of a final. Now roll on Christmas special
No need for sparkly withdrawal symptoms just yet. There are a mere 11 days to wait for the annual festive special.
At 4.40pm on Christmas Day, six former contestants - namely Chizzy Akudolu, Debbie McGee, Gemma Atkinson, Joe Sugg, Mark Wright and Richard Arnold - will perform Yuletide routines in a bid for the Strictly Star trophy.
Check back here for our review and more Strictly news as it happens. Until then, for one last time this year: keeeeeep dancing!
#StrictlyFinal is brilliant. Kicking myself for the times I rolled my eyes and didn’t watch with my Ma. I would honestly give anything to do that now.— polly kelly (@pollykeaton) December 14, 2019
An absolutely epic Strictly Final. Well deserved winners and fabulous series! I enjoyed every second, the music, choreography, judges, celebs and pros, and costumes. Looking forward to the Christmas special. #StrictlyFinal#StrictlyComeDancing2019#TeamFlotipic.twitter.com/OLoNBhZxMS— Samantha Capes (@SamanthaCapes) December 14, 2019
There’s no shortage of entertainment/talent shows on telly, but there’s something really special about #Strictly. It’s by far the best one and a real treat for millions and millions of viewers. I’m already counting down to next year’s series. #StrictlyFinal— Elliot Gonzalez (@elliot_gonzalez) December 14, 2019
Last live show in full
Here’s your routine-by-routine recap of the grand glitterball final…
Credits roll on the series
A worthy winner and a rousing ending. Please stay with us for analysis and social media reaction…
Kelvin and Oti lift the glitterball trophy
Kelvin has a wobble in his voice and dampness in his eyes, bless him. Oti and indeed her sister Motsi are tearful. Kelvin thanks everyone sincerely, while Oti pays tribute to his work ethic, her mascara streaking,
They embrace and lift the bauble as sparks fly. The class of 2019 invade the dancefloor to hoist them shoulder high. Confetti and streamers fall again as everyone claps along to Sister Sledge's 'We Are Family'. A rousing, communal climax.
Kelvin Fletcher is crowned the winner
Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse become the 17th champions of Strictly Come Dancing.
Right then, hoofing fans, this is it. Time for dramatic light and loooooong… tension-building… pauses... as we find out who’s the Strictly 2019 champion. Any last predictions? I'm rooting for Kelvin but it go either way.
Chris Ramsey's back
The defeated semi-finalist brings the 'Uptown Funk' to round off proceedings, Streamers and confetti fall. That was lovely. Great fun.
Class of 2019 return
Always a celebratory moment as this year’s eliminated contestants all return to the ballroom for one last group dance to 'Love Really Hurts Without You' by Billy Ocean.
Will Bayley is there after all, albeit moving gingerly. The enjoyably chaotic routine incorporates all their signature moves from the series. Tick them off like bingo. Anneka Rice does feathers. Viscountess Emma Weymouth does Downton and Alex Scott does Beyoncé.
We’ve got Dev Griffin’s streetdancing genie, James Cracknell’s pancake-flipping, David James as Batman, Magic Mike Bushell on a fireman’s pole, Michelle Visage’s vogueing, Catherine Tyldesley’s “Single Ladies” moves with Johannes Radebe… Ah, memories.
Birthday girl Taylor Swift in the ballroom
Musical guest time and it’s an A-list one in the shape of Pennsylvania popstrel Taylor Swift. The globe-conquering superstar turned 30 yesterday, so is celebrating beneath the glitterball.
A low-key Tay-Tay is sitting at the piano to perform her ballad "Lover”, written about her British actor boyfriend Joe Alwyn (who you can see on the BBC this Christmas in A Christmas Carol, Dickens/celebrity gossip fans). Choreographic accompaniment comes from six of the Strictly pros.
Karim and Amy at the top. Kelvin and Oti just a point behind. Emma and Anton two behind them. But it's viewer votes that will decide the winner.
Kelvin and Oti’s samba
Last dance now. Their couple’s favourite is the routine from way back in week one that announced their late arrival. After surprise package Kelvin booty-popped, hip-shook and shoulder-shimmied, Bruno Tonioli said he’d "started a chain reaction of hot flushes around the country”. It notched 32 points, the highest week one score for five years. Plenty of Latin spice and a Rio carnival of a routine. Olé!
Music: “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” by Celia Cruz
Judges’ verdict: Shirley says “you've left me speechless.” Bruno says “this guy is the samba king, the things you do with your bum and hips is mesmerising, what you have achieved over the past 13 weeks is extraordinary, you're incredible.” Craig says “I had a small problem with the bounce action but I'm prepared to overlook it, brave to do the samba and rumba, your hips are insane, you smashed it.” Motsi concludes “a samba of the highest level, you put your heart and soul into that dance”.
Judges' scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 points. Seven up on first time around.
Emma and Anton’s Viennese waltz
The couple’s favourite is their Viennese from back in week four, set to Stephen Sondheim’s weepy Broadway classic. This is the routine that gave judge Motsi Mabuse goosebumps and made her tell Emma: “You’ve arrived!” It scored 35 points last time and Emma’s frame should have improved since then. Elegance and emotional storytelling as they spin, twirl and float around the floor. Fleckerls and pivots ahoy. Much improved.
Music: “Send in the Clowns” by Barbra Streisand
Judges’ verdict: Motsi says “stunning, beauty of movement and believable acting skills.” Shirley says “poised, presented, feminine, the cuddle at the end brought a tear to my eye.” Bruno says “immaculate storytelling but the dancing was as good, my love.” Craig concludes “missed a couple of heels on your pivots - just saying, darling - class beyond class, gaw-jus”. He shushes the hecklers from the balcony with “quiet in the rafters!”.
Judges' scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 points. Still no 40 for Anton.
Karim and Amy’s jive
The couple’s favourite, unsurprisingly, is their jive from Musicals Week a fortnight ago - the routine that scored the first perfect 40 of the series and was hailed by Bruno as “the best jive we've ever seen on Strictly.” (Jay McGuiness and Jill Halfpenny are drafting their complaint emails as we speak). It’s a monochrome Sixties-style party dance, packed full of kicks, flicks and tricks. Flying leaps, pirouettes and showmanship. Feelgood, upbeat, lightning in a bottle.
Music: “You Can't Stop the Beat” from Hairspray
Judges’ verdict: Craig says “you remind me of me, darling, it's like looking in a mirror, absolutely a-may-zing.” Motsi says “you couldn't have done anything better today, you're the best.” Shirley says “dancing and work ethic go without saying, you're so inspiring for the young generation, came back fighting when you were low and a true gentleman.” Bruno concludes “I'm always right, it was the best jive ever on Strictly, professional standard”.
Judges' scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40 points. His second perfect 40 tonight. He's only dropped one point across three dances but I suspect he won't get quite enough votes.
Special Ks tied at the top
Kelvin and Karim now deadlocked on 79 points out of 80 so far. Emma just behind on 77.
Kelvin and Oti’s showdance
Set to the 1959 song, later covered by Lulu, this is a pink-clad, jam-packed retro showdance. They start off inside a jukebox, then jump down onto the dancefloor. The fast, full-on number incorporates six different dance styles: lindyhop, jive, Charleston, quickstep, tango and Argentine tango (even though they haven’t danced it). There are neat nods to their memorable moments from the series, including those flying press-ups from Blackpool. Spot of moonwalk and Northern soul. A few Elvis moves, big lifts, then a nice change of pace. This is a cracker. A showreel of his best bit. Spin and sparks to end. Brilliant. Oti barely staying in her top towards the end.
Music: Shout” by The Isley Brothers
Judges’ verdict: Bruno says “I'm rocked, shaken, stirred and exhilarated, it was a tour de force, 13 weeks condensed into one dance.” Craig says “I loved every single minute.” Motsi says “I have no words” and gets tearful. Shirley concludes “pushed the limits, great technique, it had everything”.
Judges' scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40 points, tying him at the top with Karim.
Emma and Anton’s showdance
The 1936 classic soundtracks a Fred & Ginger-style number. E,,a in a blue feathered grok descends from the ceiling. Old-style Hollywood glamour, fast and jazzy, razzle-dazzle with a bit of tap and a cane section in the middle. This is the sort of showdance that worked in the final for winners Tom Chambers and Ore Oduba. An omen? Slightly lumpen lifts and Emma struggling with the rhythm in places, losing sync, but sparkly fun, spectacular styling and a big finish.
Music: “Let Yourself Go” by Irving Berlin
Judges’ verdict: Shirley says “immaculate choreography, totally enjoyed it.” Bruno says “hooray or Hollywood and hooray for Emma, it works.” Craig says “slight hesitation on the steps, I had that set at my 50th birthday, flashy and full-on, loved the style and loved the dance.” Motsi concludes “nerves showed but it was classy, glitzy and glamorous”.
Judges' scores: 8, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 38 points. Generous.
Karim and Amy’s showdance
Set to a cover of the anthem from The Greatest Showman, this is a dreamy and ethereal contemporary dance. Feelgood free movement charting the youngest couple’s journey from childhood to the Strictly final. Barefoot, white-clad and full of emotion. Lots of leaps and pirouettes, then some floorwork. Very accomplished but all very balletic and not terribly ballroom. A confetti-as-water effect. Lovely and skilled but a little stage school-ish for me. Karim in tears at the end.
Music: “A Million Dreams” by Pink
Judges’ verdict: Motsi says “perfect dance for you, showcased your talent and feeling, you made my dancing heart happy.” Shirley says “so moving, freedom and expression, congratulations to Amy, you've worked wonders.” Bruno says “felt like a dream, danced like an angel, honest and truthful, never lose that passion, regardless of what happens tonight.” Craig concludes “technically demanding, out of sync in the fountain, but theatrical storytelling and emotion all there”.
Judges' scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 points - the third 39 out of four dances so far.
Karim top after one dance
But there's nothing in it, with Kelvin and Emma just a single point behind.
Tom Allen on the Ts & Cs
Last surprise guest of the series now as the hilariously camp comedian, clad in tails, pops up on Claudia’s balcony to read out the voting smallprint, ending with the traditional handover “Tess…”
Kelvin and Oti’s rumba
The judges’ pick is from week four - a rare rumba for a final. This was one of Kelvin’s routines which sent the judges all aflutter, with Craig saying it "oozed machismo, it was filth” and Motsi adding: "That's my sister, stop it!" It scored 36 points - can the couple turn those nines into 10s? Shirley wants details, chemistry and continuous body motion. Black-clad, sensual and seductive. Controlled turns and spins. Great romantic connection. Kelvin leading well and it sizzles away beautifully.
Music: “Ain't No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
Judges’ verdict: Craig says “I'm hot under the collar, darling, it was believable but above all, masculine.” Motsi says “you used your muscles well, it was too much last time so I'm glad I'm saw it twice.” Shirley fans herself and says “you're all the sunshine I need, oily like a lava lamp, superb technique, credit to the teacher.” Bruno concludes “we've reached melting point, it was sensual and romantic, sizzling chemistry, you went from sculptural to fluid and opened up the lines gorgeously”.
Judges' scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 points. Level with Emma.
Emma and Anton’s Charleston
The last woman standing and the judges have picked their Charleston from Musicals Week just a fortnight ago. “You just fast-tracked your way to the final,” said head judge Shirley Ballas, prophetically. First time around it scored a hat-trick of 10s for 39pts, Anton’s highest ever score. Emma’s back in her red fringed flapper dress and is in her element. Full of bounce, bags for character, goofy faces and that all important swivel. Can they go one better and get the full 40? Craig wants some extra refinement and polish on the finishes. Not sure she's managing it, this looks a little heavy in places and not perfectly in-sync.
Music: “Thoroughly Modern Millie” from the musical of the same name
Judges’ verdict: Bruno says “you're my favourite flapper ever, sold it and played the part with flair.” Craig says “there was a sync issue but that routine would be right at home in the West End.” Motsi says “details and energy on-point, your eyes sparkled more than my outfit, darling.” Shirley concludes “last lady standing and you did not disappoint, one of the most enjoyable Charlestons I've ever watched and Anton you were fabulous”.
Judges' scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 points - same as last time.
Karim and Amy’s quickstep
The judges’ pick is their well-tailored quickstep from week seven. Shirley said it was "one of the best quicksteps I've seen”, while Craig declared it "totally stunning". It scored 39, one point short of perfection. Can it get a full house of 10s this time around? Get rid of the gapping, says Craig Revel Horwood. It's fast, flicky and full of jazzy style. Lovely T-shape frame. Minor footwork hesitation mid-routine but flying elegantly and smoothly around the floor. Will Craig be reaching for that 10 paddle?
Music: Mr Pinstripe Suit” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Judges’ verdict: Shirley says “what a way to open the show, no gapping, beautiful frame, you were a star.” Bruno says “pure ballroom bliss, detail and musicality were perfection, you made it current too.” Craig says “you did mind the gap, darling.” Motsi concludes “it was great first time but you've matured, played around with it and it was electrifying”. We could be in for a full house here.
Judges' scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40 points. Third maximum of the series and Karim's notched two of those.
Our Strictly stars
The couples reappear and their outfits give us our first clues. Looks like it's the judges' choice of dances first up.
Time for our final fashion face-off of the series. Claudia Winkleman is sporting a monochrome get-up with frilly white shirt and black trousers. Tess Daly in a bronze sequinned full-length halterneck frock. Claudia just edges it.
Celebs arrive too
The three finalists are introduced. Awkward mum-dancing and dad-dancing ahoy.
Pros open the show
We kick off with a moody group number from the pro troupe white outfits on a neon-lit dancefloor, set to 'Higher Love'.
The three pro finalists make their entrance: Oti Mabuse, Amy Dowden and, of course, Dame Anton du Beke.
Cue clapalong credits
Three couples on this title sequence will be slugging it out for victory tonight, while 11 will be returning to the danceloor for one last boogie. Will Bayley won't, sadly.
And we’re off!
We open with a cute tension-building VT set in an empty ballroom. Let's hope those seats are filled tonight.
Let ballroom battle commence
We’ve had 13 weeks, 11 eliminations, two injury dropouts and several million sequins.
Now just three celebrities are left standing and that garish glitterball trophy is within reach.
So who will take the bauble home for Christmas? Two minutes until we go over to Elstree Studios ballroom…
Showdances could prove crucial
As we know from previous finals, the showdance can make or break their hopes.
One magical showdance could propel any of our trio to victory and we'll see three contrasting ones tonight.
Hold tight, it's five minutes until the big one...
Will Shirley be twirly?
Head judge Shirley Ballas suffered a shock injury last night. She's currently performing in panto (Jack and the Beanstalk at Darlington’s Hippodrome, in case you’re wondering) and pulled her hamstring during Friday’s performance.
Will that affect the Queen of Latin's grand entrance or participation in any group dances tonight? Just eight minutes until we find out...
Class of 2019 return but no Will Bayley
Always a celebratory moment as this year’s eliminated contestants all return to the ballroom for one last group dance.
The only absentee is Will Bayley, who is still recuperating from knee injury and is up in Aberdeen with his Paralympic team-mates for tomorrow night’s Sports Personality Of The Year awards show.
Ten minutes to wait now...
Taylor Swift shakes it off tonight
Musical guest tonight is an impressive booking: pop superstar Taylor Swift. Swifty Come Dancing anyone?
Place your ballroom bets
According to bookies, the man to put your money on is Kelvin Fletcher, with 2/5 odds on him lifting the glitterball.
Emma Barton is 9/4, while Karim Zeroual is the rank outsider at 12/1.
Just 15 minutes until that ba-ba-da theme tune...
Chris Ramsey just missed out
Last weekend’s tense semi-final saw Geordie joker Chris Ramsey and his pro partner Karen Hauer depart the dancefloor.
It was bittersweet to see the popular pair go but the right decision. They lit up the series with their entertaining routines and endearing partnership but weren’t worthy finalists.
Twenty minutes until showtime...
No dance business like showdance business
This will separate the contenders from the pretenders, as Len Goodman used to say.
If the finalists thought mastering two full routines last week was tough, they’re now on an even steeper learning curve because it’s three dances apiece: the judges’ pick, the couple’s favourite (their choices were revealed on last night’s spin-off show It Takes Two) and, of course, the no-rules, no-hold-barred, anything-goes showdance.
Expect lifts, tricks, themes, storytelling and all manner of risk-taking razzle-dazzle.
Half an hour to wait…
From Downing Street to dancing feet
Now that a certain other public-voted race is over, it’s time for the main event. After three months of steps, sequins and surprise eliminations, glitterball glory now beckons. We’ve reached the grand final of Strictly 2019 and it’s all to dance for.
At 7.05pm on BBC One, our last three surviving pro-celebrity couples must tackle three full routines apiece for the first time: one chosen by the judges, the couples’ previous favourite from the series and, of course, the famous showdance - always a series highlight.
With more steps than ever to learn, the pressure has been on in the training rooms. Who will rise to the showpiece occasion and succeed Stacey Dooley as Strictly’s 17th champion: Emma Barton, Karim Zeroual or Kelvin Fletcher?
As if further intrigue were needed, an additional sub-plot is that it would be a first glitterball trophy for any of their three professional partners.
Although the judges will mark the routines as usual, their scores are just for guidance tonight. The winning couple will be decided by viewers votes alone.
We'll be liveblogging from 6.30pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, recaps, analysis and sequin-spangled sarcasm. Please join us - and join in too. You can email me on michael.hogan@ telegraph.co.uk, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.
Nearly time to staaaaart glitterball trophy-lifting…