Strictly Come Dancing crowns Christmas champion in dazzling episode

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Singer Anne-Marie has been crowned the winner of the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special.

The 30-year-old pop star and professional dancer Graziano Di Prima were victorious after performing a thrilling cha cha, which earned them a perfect score of 40 from the judges.

They landed joint top of the leaderboard with former Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc and Neil Jones, whose couple’s choice to Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby was also a huge hit.

(C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Anne Marie and Graziano Di Prima (Guy Levy/BBC)

Anne Marie, who is also a coach on The Voice, looked visibly shocked when her name was called out during the festive instalment of the BBC One show airing on Christmas Day.

She said: “I cannot believe it. I’m so proud and so happy for this opportunity to dance. It brought out a side of me I hadn’t seen in a long time. Thanks to Graz and the whole team. You have made my Christmas so special.”

Writing on Twitter after the episode aired, she added: “I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!!! I’m so proud and so happy for the opportunity to dance.

“It brought out a side of me I hadn’t seen in a long time. Thanks to @GrazianoDiPrima and the whole team. You have made my Christmas so special!”

The judges – Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Anton Du Beke and Motsi Mabuse – were full of praise for Giedroyc’s comically-infused routine, which also included dancing penguin holograms.

Ballas said: “You absolutely sum up the joy of Christmas. It was joyous, what a way to close our show, well done.”

Luba Mushtuk and Jay Blades (Guy Levy/BBC)
Luba Mushtuk and Jay Blades (Guy Levy/BBC)

The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades and Luba Mushtuk were scored a total of 34 by the judges for their jive to the Only Fools And Horses theme song, Hooky Street.

Blades was surprised with a message from Only Fools And Horses star Sir David Jason before they received their judges’ scores for their routine, which featured a chandelier in the beginning, a nod to one of the sitcom’s most popular episodes to air.

Sir David, 81, known for playing Derek “Del Boy” Trotter in the BBC sitcom, joked in a video message that given they were dancing to the show’s theme song “there will be a royalty” and ended his message with one of the show’s famous lines saying: “You know it makes sense.”

Fred Sirieix and Dianne Buswell (Guy Levy/BBC)
Fred Sirieix and Dianne Buswell (Guy Levy/BBC)

First Dates host Fred Sirieix and Dianne Buswell opened the show with a quickstep, which earned them three 10s and a total judges’ score of 38.

Revel Horwood told the TV star: “I did think you were trotting around like a turkey but maybe that was the whole point darling”, but then commended Sirieix for the “fantastic energy” he brought to the routine.

Newsreader Moira Stuart and Aljaz Skorjanec performed a salsa, which Revel Horwood gushed over saying: “I really, really enjoyed that.”

TV presenter Adrian Chiles and professional Jowita Przystal were praised for their American smooth, which head judge Ballas said was “so warming”.

Neil Jones and Mel Giedroyc (Guy Levy/BBC)
Neil Jones and Mel Giedroyc (Guy Levy/BBC)

The studio audience voted for their favourite and their votes were combined with the judges’ scores to decide the winner following all of the routines.

The festive show was presented by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, and also featured musical performances from Jamie Cullum and Gary Barlow.

Last year, a special Christmas episode looked back on the 25 best performances from the show’s history.

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