Strictly Come Dancing final: Ellie and Vito announced as winners of the 2023 show

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 is officially over, with Ellie Leach announced as the winner of the Glitterball Trophy.

Coronation Street star Leach battled it out in a sparkling finale against EastEnders actor Bobby Brazier and Bad Education’s Layton Williams to impress the viewers at home.

When Leach, 22, was announced as the winner of Strictly, her family jumped around so enthusiastically in the audience that they almost toppled over.

“I actually genuinely cannot believe this,” Leach breathlessly told hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly.

She has become the 21st Strictly champion, and the eighth actor to win the trophy. It’s also a big moment for her pro partner Vito Coppola, who only joined the BBC One competition last year.

Catch up with everything that happened on the night, below...

Key points

The Strictly final is just two and a half hours way

Saturday 16 December 2023 16:38 , Ellie Harrison

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live blog of the Strictly final. I’m your host, Ellie Harrison. While I can’t provide a fringe anywhere near as impressive as Claudia Winkleman’s, or a dress as glamorous as Tess Daly’s, I can promise you that I will be fuelled by prosecco all evening, so hopefully we’ll have some fun...

The dances to expect tonight

Saturday 16 December 2023 16:53 , Ellie Harrison

Here’s what the three couples in the final are performing in the hopes of winning the whole bloomin’ show...

  • Ellie Leach – Showdance to “Jennifer Lopez Megamix”, Judges’ Pick Paso Doble to “Insomnia” by 2WEI, Favourite Dance American Smooth to “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” by Robbie Williams

  • Layton Williams – Showdance to “Friend Like Me” by Ne-Yo, Judges’ Pick Quickstep to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Gregory Porter, Favourite Dance Tango to Tattoo by Loreen

  • Bobby Brazier – Showdance to “La La Land Medley”, Judges’ Pick Samba to “Young Hearts Run Free” by Candi Staton, Favourite Dance Couple’s Choice to “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell

Esther Rantzen has been, erm, ranting about Layton Williams ahead of the finale...

Saturday 16 December 2023 17:04 , Ellie Harrison

Dame Rantzen, who came eighth on Strictly in 2004, has said that BBC bosses “lost the plot” by recruiting Layton Williams, due to his past experience in musical theatre.

Read the full story here...

Strictly ‘lost the plot’ by casting ‘pro dancer’ Layton Williams, says Esther Rantzen

A throwback to the Bobby Brazier of three months ago

Saturday 16 December 2023 17:40 , Ellie Harrison

I interviewed Bobby Brazier in September, ahead of Strictly 2023 kicking off, and he was absolutely buzzing. He told me he felt like his whole life (all 20 years of it) had been leading up to going on the show. And he was funny, too, peering cartoonishly into the Zoom screen, trying to get a closer look at the cookbooks in my kitchen. “Ottolenghi?” he cried. “Sounds like a pasta!”

Read the full interview here...

Bobby Brazier on Strictly, EastEnders and his mum Jade Goody

A few bits of trivia you might not have known about Strictly...

Saturday 16 December 2023 18:15 , Ellie Harrison

To get us all in the mood and pass the time before the finale kicks off, here are some facts about Strictly, put together by my fab colleague Isobel Lewis...

8 facts you didn’t know about Strictly Come Dancing

Just two minutes to go!

Saturday 16 December 2023 18:58 , Ellie Harrison

The Strictly 2023 final is almost upon us. Here are words from an emotional post Bobby Brazier shared on his Instagram this afternoon as he geared up to perform...

“To inspire is the greatest privilege. Once the kid frozen in the car, or glued to his dads side, or spending days in bed. This is for us. Take the risk, do the thing, and just enjoy it.

“Thank you for your support so far and thank you for your support tonight and in the future, where would we be without you ? Enjoy the show tonight, I hope we take you on a journey. Love you.”

All hail Amy Dowden

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:06 , Ellie Harrison

So fantastic to see pro dancer Amy Dowden strutting her stuff in the opening dance of the finale.

Dowden, who has appeared on the show since 2017, was forced to sit this season out after she was diagnosed with grade three breast cancer in May.

Read more about her experience here...

Amy Dowden reveals how Strictly helped her through cancer treatment

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly are serving ALL the glitter

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:10 , Ellie Harrison

Glitter just runs through these women’s veins doesn’t it? They’ve just introduced the judges, who have done a very intense group dance in front of a fire-spouting Glitter Ball. So far, so Strictly.

Ellie Leach is all set to do her first dance

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:13 , Ellie Harrison

First up for the Corrie star is the Judges’ Pick: A Paso Doble to “Insomnia” by 2WEI. She’s looking fierce in red and black. There’s scarlett smoke behind her. The club anthem is popping. Let’s go!

Ellie Leach opened the final with a superb score

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:18 , Ellie Harrison

She said it was an “honour” to open the final with her Paso Doble. And the scores are in at 9, 10, 10, 10... that’s 39!

But remember the scores are only for guidance tonight.

Bobby Brazier’s served up his Samba

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:24 , Ellie Harrison

His Judges’ Pick was the Samba to “Young Hearts Run Free” by Candi Staton... the crowd loved him and his dad Jeff was in the audience of course! Cute.

39 for Bobby!

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:28 , Ellie Harrison

Bobby got four eights last week... he’s improved on that already for the final with 9, 10, 10, 10 in his first dance tonight - that’s 39. No 40s yet... who will be first to get a perfect score?

Layton nailed the Judges’ Pick

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:35 , Ellie Harrison

The Bad Education star performed his Quickstep (from way back in week two!) to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Gregory Porter. “I’m so glad it paid off,” he said.

Layton’s scores

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:36 , Ellie Harrison

10 from Craig! And 10, 10, 10. That’s our first 40 of the night wahoo!

Ellie and Vito struggle with the lifts in the Showdance

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:45 , Ellie Harrison

But Motsi reckons it’s worth a standing ovation anyway! Their Showdance was to a “Jennifer Lopez Megamix”. Shirley says it’s “one of the hardest routines I’ve ever seen”.

A glimpse of Ellie and Vito after their Showdance

Saturday 16 December 2023 19:49 , Ellie Harrison

They got 9, 9, 9, 9 ... so that’s 36!

After the lift-tastic routine (BBC)
After the lift-tastic routine (BBC)

Bobby and Dianne’s Showdance was bursting with energy

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:00 , Ellie Harrison

“Actually brilliant,” said Craig, but still a 9 from him. Plus 10, 10, 10... that’s 39. No one’s matched Layton’s 40 yet!

Layton does bonkers back-flip in his Showdance

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:06 , Ellie Harrison

The screams from the crowd went on for so long at the end of the routine that Anton said: “Well, there’s not much to add is there?” The routine was mad, and included an extremely impressive back-flip. This man is unstoppable!

Layton’s scores...

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:09 , Ellie Harrison

9, 10, 10, 10... again, don’t forget the scores are just for guidance in the final! Viewer votes trump all.

Ellie doing her last dance of the series

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:16 , Ellie Harrison

Ellie’s American Smooth to “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” by Robbie Williams...

Vito and Ellie (BBC)
Vito and Ellie (BBC)

Ellie got 40!

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:19 , Ellie Harrison

Go girl! Bobby needs a 40 then it’ll be a full house

Bobby dancing the Couple’s Choice to “This Woman’s Work"

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:25 , Ellie Harrison

He and Dianne were very emotional during this one... as were the judges and Bobby’s family. Not a dry eye in the house.

The pair originally performed the routine in week 10, and dedicated it to Bobby’s late mother Jade Goody.

Bobby and Dianne (BBC)
Bobby and Dianne (BBC)

Craig stands in Bobby’s way of a perfect 40

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:30 , Ellie Harrison

Craig is feeling a little bit grinchy this Christmas. 9, 10, 10 and 10 for Bobby and Dianne. This means Layton and Ellie both got full 40s in the final but Bobby missed out. Ah well, the scores are only for guidance anyway!

In case you missed Layton’s flip...

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:33 , Ellie Harrison

Here it is again!

Layton’s final dance

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:39 , Ellie Harrison

He and Nikita wore unforgivable purple suits (it brought to mind the Beckhams’ 1999 wedding get-ups) but we’ll let them off because they did a brilliant Tango to “Tattoo” by Loreen.

The scores were... 10, 10, 10 10. That’s a second perfect 40!

Pair in purple (BBC)
Pair in purple (BBC)

Only a few minutes left to vote...!

Saturday 16 December 2023 20:46 , Ellie Harrison

Cher is here, being extremely Cher, to entertain you as you cast your votes...

Ellie’s won it!

Saturday 16 December 2023 21:03 , Ellie Harrison

“I actually genuinely cannot believe this,” she gasped. The last female celebrity in the competition won it... go girl!

The moment of triumph for Ellie

Saturday 16 December 2023 21:10 , Ellie Harrison

“Lift it high!” yelled Tess and Claudia. And so she did.

That’s a wrap on the blog for tonight. Thanks so much for spending the evening with me. There were tears, there were sparkles, there were many glasses of fizz.

Have a fab rest of the night!

Ellie wins (BBC)
Ellie wins (BBC)

ICYMI: Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola win Strictly 2023

Sunday 17 December 2023 08:50 , Nicole Vassell

The bookies’ favourite pairing Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola held the Strictly glitterball high last night, becoming the latest couple to win Strictly Come Dancing.

Former Corrie star Leach and her professional partner wowed the judges and the voting public with three routines during Saturday night’s live final, beating fellow finalists Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell, and Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin.

Here’s how it happened, in full:

Ellie Leach wins Strictly Come Dancing 2023

WATCH: Layton Williams performs impressive back-flip in his showdance

Sunday 17 December 2023 10:53 , Nicole Vassell

Though he narrowly missed out on the Glitterball trophy, Layton Williams still provided many moments to remember in last night’s final.

Here’s a peek at his superb showdance with partner Nikita Kuzmin, complete with backflip – do not try at home, unless you’re brave!

‘BBC lost the plot when casting Layton Williams,’ says Dame Esther Rantzen

Sunday 17 December 2023 11:59 , Nicole Vassell

According to Dame Esther Rantzen, musical theatre star Layton Williams should never have been a part of Strictly Come Dancing, claiming that he had an unfair advantage compared to other competitors.

“A professional dancer like the brilliant Layton Williams should never be given a role as a contestant in Strictly,” she wrote in a letter for The Telegraph. “It’s unfair to all the others, and to the viewers.”

Ellie Harrison reports:

Strictly ‘lost the plot’ by casting ‘pro dancer’ Layton Williams, says Esther Rantzen

Strictly fans brand Amy Dowden ‘true winner’ as dancer makes surprise return to show

Sunday 17 December 2023 12:55 , Nicole Vassell

Amy Dowden thrilled Strictly viewers last night as she made a surprise appearance during the opening group number.

The professional dancer, 33, has been a staple of the BBC dance competition since she joined in 2017, and is much-loved among fans of the show.

However, Dowden did not compete in 2023’s series due to undergoing treatment for breast cancer, which included chemotherapy and a mastectomy earlier this year.

On Saturday’s (16 December) final episode, which saw actor Ellie Leach become the youngest-ever winner, Dowden delighted fans by joining in a routine with her professional colleagues.

Read the full story here:

Strictly fans brand Amy Dowden ‘true winner’ after surprise return