Strictly Come Dancing final: Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola win 2023 series

Coronation Street star Ellie Leach and her professional partner Vito Coppola have been crowned the winners of Strictly Come Dancing’s 2023 series.

The pair competed against Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell, and Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin in the grand final, which aired tonight (16 December) on BBC One.

With an average age of 23, this year’s three finalists were the youngest line-up ever to make it to the last week of the competition.

When Leach, 22, was announced as the winner of Strictly, her parents celebrated so enthusiastically in the audience that they almost fell over.

“I actually genuinely cannot believe this,” Leach gasped. She has become the 21st Strictly champion, and the eighth actor to win the trophy. It’s also a huge triumph for Coppola, who only joined the series last year.

The Strictly winners were selected through a public vote, with judges’ scores serving only as guidelines.

In the final, Leach and Coppola did their Showdance to “Jennifer Lopez Megamix”, their Judges’ Pick was a Paso Doble to “Insomnia” by 2WEI, and their Favourite Dance was the American Smooth to “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” by Robbie Williams.

Ellie wins (BBC)
Ellie wins (BBC)

They got a perfect 40 points for their American Smooth, but they struggled a little with the lifts in the Showdance. Judge Motsi Mabuse reckoned it was worth a standing ovation anyway, and Shirley Ballas said it was “one of the hardest routines I’ve ever seen”.

Leach is best known for portraying Faye Windass on the ITV soap Coronation Street. She joined the show as a child in 2011 and exited earlier this year.

Throughout her time on the show, Leach’s character had a wide variety of storylines, including bullying, teen pregnancy and premature menopause.

Her Strictly competitor Brazier, 20, is the son of late reality star Jade Goody and is known for playing Freddie Slater on EastEnders.

His dad, the TV presenter Jeff Brazier, shared a heartfelt message to his son ahead of the final, saying: “I know you want this experience to carry on forever but nothing you love ever ends, it just becomes the platform from which you take the next step to add to the wonderful memories you’ve already made for yourself.”

Williams, 29, is known for starring in Bad Education. While he didn’t win as many votes as Leach, Williams got two perfect 40s in the final, and was the most skilled dancer of the series. But his background in musical theatre led many to criticise his casting in the show, saying he was at an unfair advantage.

Catch up on everything that happened in the live final here.