News Flash: Bruce Forsyth steps down from hosting Strictly

  • Alesha Dixon Winner
  • Matt Di Angelo 2nd
  • Gethin Jones 3rd
  • Letitia Dean 4th
  • Kenny Logan 5th
  • Kelly Brook Out
  • John Barnes 7th
  • Kate Garraway 8th
  • Penny Lancaster 9th
  • Dominic Littlewood 10th
  • Gabby Logan 11th
  • Willie Thorne 12th
  • Stephanie Beacham 13th
  • Brian Capron 14th


Strictly 5

Strictly 5

Strictly: Alesha wins!

Alesha Dixon has won the 2007 series of Strictly Come Dancing., beating rival dancer Matt Di Angelo into second place.

The former Mis-teeq singer - who was hot favourite to take the title - was openly thrilled as the result was announced, leaping on to dance partner Matthew Cutler in celebration.

"You are a star in the making," Matthew said of Alesha, "and you've worked so hard. You've given 150 per cent and you're a sheer joy to work with.

Runner-up Matt thanked Flavia for "everything I've been taught", while she described her celebrity dance partner as "amazing. I couldn't have wished for a better parnter," she said.

And the pair - who have been rumoured to be more than just friends - were taken by surprise, and giggled nervously when Tess Daly asked whether they would be seeing each other again. "We'll see," said Matt hesitantly.

Earlier in the evening, Alesha and Matthew had performed a waltz, cha cha cha and jive to a rapturous response from the judging panel. Before the final result was announced they also performed a Viennese waltz with Matt and Flavia, and rounded off their performance with a freestyle routine to the Bonnie Tyler song Holding Out For A Hero.

"This wasn't a dance. This was a stunning epic performance," Bruno said of the routine, while Craig Revel Horwood agreed. "You danced as if your life depended on it," he told Alesha. "Brilliant."

Matt also picked up plenty of praise for his final two dances, following his American Smooth, salsa and quickstep in the first show of the evening.

Arlene Phillips described the actor's freestyle routine - to Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way - as "dynamite", while Len said, "You nailed it, it was absolutely brilliant."

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Strictly 5

The Final - Results

Alesha and Matthew are the new Strictly Champions!

At last, it was time for the live results show!

First up, both couples danced a Viennese Waltz to 'This Year's Love'.

Bruno was first to comment. 'You two really are the best of Britain - you're the shining example for young people. Beauty and grace... I'm lost for words for once!' Craig was also impressed, saying 'I've never known such electricity in the room, and that's due to the way you guys perform.' Arlene added, 'Matt, leading the Vinnese Waltz is so difficult and you lead it like a champion. Alesha, it was like you were riding on the crest of a wave, and you are riding high tonight.' And Matt added, 'Matt, you've proved to everyone that you deserve to be here tonight. Alesha, you've been Miss Consistency throughout the series. Great job, both of you.'

Next, it was the moment we've all been waiting for... the show dances! First up it was Matt and Flavia dancing to 'Are You Gunna Go My Way?'

Len was succinct.'You nailed it. It was absolutely brilliant.' Bruno agreed, 'you delivered well above anybody's expectations. Wow.' Craig felt the same, adding 'completely fearless and powerful. I loved it.' Finally Arlene said, 'it was brave, it was bold, you daring little devil, it was dynamite!'

Alesha and Matt were up next, dancing to 'Holding Out for a Hero'.

Arlene was first to comment. 'I need a hero? Well, tonight Alesha, you are my heroine.' Len added, 'for me, tonight, there is no loser. That was great.' Bruno agreed, 'this wasn't a dance. This was a stunning epic performance!' and Craig concluded, 'you danced as if your life depended on it. Brilliant.'

Next up we were treated to a performance of 'Two Become One' by The Spice Girls. And then, finally, it was time for the moment of truth...

...and the winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2007 are Alesha and Matthew!

Tess firstly consoled the runners up, Matt and Flavia. 'We'd won by getting to the final,' Flavia said. 'We were so pleased.' Matt added, 'I just want to say thank you so much Flavia for everything you've taught me.'

And Bruce congratulated our new champions, telling a lost for words Alesha 'you really could be the biggest female star in Britain!' Matt thanked Alesha, adding 'you are a star. You've worked so hard, you've given 150%, and you are like a professional dancer now.'

So there we have it. Alesha and Matt did it! Do you agree with the results? Were you backing Alesha all the way? Or do you think Matt was robbed? Our message boards are open for the final time on Sunday 23rd, closing at 10pm, so go over and have your say!

Congratulations Alesha!

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Strictly 5

Alesha wins Strictly Come Dancing

Singer Alesha Dixon has won BBC One's ballroom show Strictly Come Dancing.

She beat actor Matt Di Angelo in a public vote after they performed five dances with their professional partners in the series finale.

Dixon, 29, had admitted she was "scared and excited" by the dance-off, adding that she had been practising for hours every day to perfect her routines.

Di Angelo, 20, who starred in EastEnders said he had been working on his nerves and hoped to "enjoy it".

Great friends

During the show the couples performed their favourite three dances from the competition.

They then performed to T-Rex's "We love to boogie," which was chosen by the judges.

The climax of the programme was their show dances.

Di Angelo, better known as Deano Wicks in EastEnders, and his partner, Flavia Cacace, performed their dance to "Are you gonna go my way?" by Lennie Kravitz.

Dixon and her partner, Matthew Cutler, performed to "Holding out for a hero" by Bonnie Tyler.

Both competitors admitted that dancing had consumed their lives during the show's 12-week run.

"By the way, dancers are not human beings," joked Dixon, who used to sing and rap in girl group Mis-teeq.

"How can you be human and do what they do?"

However, the dancing duo have become great friends and confessed they would find it hard to face each other in the final.

"When you're competing against somebody, it would make it easier if you didn't like them," said Dixon.

"It would make my life easier if I didn't like him [Di Angelo]. It would make me more competitive."

Normally, three celebrities take part in the final round of the reality show. There were only two this year after actress Kelly Brook pulled out due to the death of her father.

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Strictly 5

Strictly: The final!

Alesha Dixon and Matt Di Angelo have taken to the floor for the grand final of Strictly Come Dancing.

The pair - the last two remaining couples in the show - each performed some of their favourite routines from the series.

Matt and dance partner Flavia Cacace impressed the judges with American Smooth and salsa routines, among others, while Alesha's dances included the waltz and a cha cha cha to Beyonce's Crazy In Love.

The other contestants from the series also appeared, reprising some of the routines they performed. Brian Capron, the first person to be eliminated, returned to the floor, whie Kelly Brook, who dropped out of the series after the death of her father, performed a Viennese waltz with partner Brendan Cole.

The winner, to be decided by public vote, will be announced later on Saturday evening after the two remaining couples have each danced for the last time.

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Strictly 5

The Final

Alesha and Matt go head to head in the series final!

So here we are, the grand final, and Matt di Angelo and Alesha Dixon are fighting it out to be the one to lift that trophy and be crowned the Strictly Come Dancing Champion 2007.

With five dances each ahead of them, the show kicked off with the Ballroom round, where each couple performed their favourite Ballroom dance from the series.

Matt and Flavia were first to take to the floor, dancing the American Smooth. Len was impressed: 'Lovely hold, beautiful movement across the floor. A great opener to the show.' Bruno agreed, 'there were a bit of nerves here and there, but overall a good job.' Craig thought it was a 'very cool, calm, collected performance.' But Arlene had to disagree, adding, 'from the waist down you were sadly lacking in perfect footwork and sway.'

Craig: 9, Arlene: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9 = 36

Next up, Alesha and Matt danced their favourite Ballroom dance, the Waltz. 'I've got Goosebumps again,' Craig said, 'you've really tidied up your footwork. I found it flawless.' Alrene was impressed too. 'Triple A: Alesha Absolutely Amazing!' Bruno said 'It sent shivers down my spine.' But Len was not so impressed, adding 'You are the most elegant of dancers, but it wasn't flawless.'

Craig: 10, Arlene: 10, Len: 9, Bruno: 10 = 39

Next we welcomed back some of the contestants from earlier in the series, dancing their favourite dances - Brian & Karen's waltz, Stephanie & Vincent's Quickstep, Willie & Erin's Waltz, Gabby & James' Jive, Dom & Lillia's Cha Cha Cha, and Penny & Ian's Samba.

Now it was time for the Latin round, where both couples performed their favourite Latin dances from the series.

First up we had Matt and Flavia dancing their Salsa. 'The energy in that was amazing,' Craig said, 'If anything had gone wrong you'd have ended up in a plaster cast!' Arlene said 'Sensational shimmying, fantastic.' Len was impressed too, 'I loved your Salsa last time, but for me, that was just a bit better.' And Bruno loved it, adding 'That salsa shakes the winter blues away. You're flying high.'

Craig: 9, Alrene: 10, Len: 10, Bruno: 10 = 39

Next up Alesha and Matt performed their Cha Cha Cha, which Arlene loved: 'Cheekier than Chicago and flashier than Flashdance.' Bruno agreed, 'If it was a west end show it would run forever and ever!' And Len declared, 'I've always said Jill Halfpenny is the best female celebrity we've had, but now I'll say Alesha Dixon'. Finally, Craig added,'I think you're absolutely fierce. I loved it.'

Craig: 9, Arlene: 9, Len: 10, Bruno: 10 = 38

Next we welcomed the remaining previous contestants, again dancing their favourite dances from the series. Kate & Anton's Paso Doble, John & Nicole's Salsa, Kelly & Brendan's Viennese Waltz, Kenny & Ola's Paso Doble, Letitia & Darren's Foxtrot and Gethin & Camilla's Salsa.

Finally it was time for the Judges Choice. In this round, the judges chose the music - 'We Love to Boogie' - and both couples chose a different dance style. Matt & Flavia danced the Quickstep, while Alesha & Matt danced the Jive.

Len said, 'Matt, you're holding your own, dance for dance. Alesha, every dance of yours is an absolute knock out. You both came out and dominated the floor - well done.' Bruno said, 'you've both done very very well, sharp, clean - good job.'

Craig added, 'This is one of the tightest competitions we've ever seen. Matt, you've improved so much, well done. Alesha - challenging, brilliant, I love watching you.' And finally Arlene said, 'You're both in it to win it, but, Matt - don't let the tension get to your face, and Alesha - your tension was up in your shoulders. When you come back - throw that all away.'

Matt & Flavia's scores were:

Craig: 9, Arlene: 8, Len: 9, Bruno: 9 = 35

Alesha & Matt's scores were:

Craig: 9, Arlene: 8, Len: 9, Bruno: 9 = 35

And so the total scores for the first part of the night were as follows:

Matt & Flavia:

Ballroom: 36, Latin: 39, Judges' Choice: 35 = 110

Alesha & Matt:

Ballroom: 39, Latin: 38, Judges' Choice: 35 = 112

So the judges have had their say, but which dance was your favourite?

Don't forget to tune in for the results show live at 9.25pm!

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Strictly 5

Strictly: Matt's hoping for victory

Strictly Come Dancing finalist Matt Di Angelo has admitted that the "sympathy vote" may have helped him win a place in Saturday's showdown

And the former EastEnder is hoping that he and partner Flavia Cacace might still have a chance of victory, even though fellow contestant Alesha Dixon is hot favourite to take the title with her partner Matthew Cutler

"I think there's still a chance we can win," he said. "We're paying people off for having faith in us earlier."

However he added that he didn't want the sympathy vote to secure him a victory.

"I think it's impossible to win that way in the final," he said. "People should vote for the performance they see on the night."

Meanwhile Alesha - who is 1-3 favourite with the bookies - has said she is "amazed" to have reached the final.

"I was absolutely convinced that it was going to be an all-boy final," she admitted.

"I have faith in the girls but I do feel we have to raise our game and we can't put a foot wrong."

Both couples will perform five routines in Saturday's final, with the winner announced later on in the evening.

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Strictly 5

Grand Final Scores

This week each couple have to dance 5 dances, but have only been scored on three:

Week 12:

Alesha & Matthew (39/40): Waltz, Craig - 10, Arlene - 10, Len - 9, Bruno - 10

Matt & Flavia (36/40): American Smooth, Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 9, Bruno - 9



Alesha & Matthew (38/40): Cha Cha Cha, Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 10, Bruno - 10

Matt & Flavia (39/40): Salsa, Craig - 9, Arlene - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10



Alesha & Matthew (35/40): Jive, Craig - 9, Arlene - 8, Len - 9, Bruno - 9

Matt & Flavia (35/40): Quickstep, Craig - 9, Arlene - 8, Len - 9, Bruno - 9



The couples danced five dances and were scored on three. These are the combined scores:

Alesha & Matthew (112/120): Waltz - 39, Cha Cha Cha - 38, Jive - 35.

Matt & Flavia (110/120): American Smooth - 36, Salsa - 39, Quickstep - 35

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Strictly 5

The final hurdle

Alesha and Matt have mixed emotions as they prepare to go head to head

Alesha Dixon and Matt Di Angelo have been through a rollercoaster of emotions this week as they put in their final week of training ahead of tomorrow's final.

Both couples have been practising hard and are desperate to really give it their all on Saturday night. It's now or never! Alesha can't wait to do her Show dance, while Matt just wants to make sure he can replicate his successful training in front of the judges and 11 million people!

Despite being physically exhausted, both couples say they've found the whole experience incredibly emotional and can't believe the show's nearly over. 'This competition has changed my life,' says Matt. 'It's been an amazing experience.'

'This is the end of an era,' Alesha said yesterday during training, becoming tearful as she talked about not dancing with Matt any more. 'Winning the competition would be the perfect end to a fairytale journey,' she said.

To pile on the pressure even more, Alesha hurt her back yesterday while practising one of the lifts and at one point was unable to move. Thankfully she should be OK by Saturday thanks to her physiotherapist.

Which ever way it goes, both Matt and Alesha have done amazingly well to get to the final and we know Saturday will be a night they'll never forget.

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Strictly 5

Matt's Salsa is top of the pops!

This week we asked you on our message boards to tell us which of all the dances in series 5 was your absolute favourite so we could compile your Top 5, and now the results are in!

In joint fifth place, it's the Viennese Waltz from Alesha and Matt in week ten, and Kelly and Brendan's from week six.

In fourth place, it's Alesha and Matt again with their Cha Cha Cha from week eight, and in third place they're back again with their Waltz from week seven.

Your second favourite dance is Gethin and Camilla's Jive from week ten, just losing out on being the series' favourite!

The most popular dance of the entire series to date is in fact... Matt and Flavia's Salsa from week eight!

So, three of Alesha's dances made it into your top 5, but Matt came in at number 1 - this just goes to show that tomorrow's final is going to be a nail-biting, edge of your sofa experience!

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Strictly 5

It's Matt v Alesha

It's the last tango in Studio One. After nearly three months of tears, tantrums, sequins and sambas, Strictly Come Dancing reaches a climax tonight.

Singer Alesha Dixon and EastEnder Matt Di Angelo will go toe-to-toe in the grand final, each performing five dances with their professional partners Matthew Cutler and Flavia Cacace.

It promises to be the most fiercely contested final in Strictly's five-series history.

But before Alesha, 29, and Matt, 20, take to the dance floor for the very last time, we caught up with them to find out their innermost thoughts on the raunchiest show on the box.

ALESHA'S HIGHS AND LOWS

Best Dance: The waltz. We'll be performing it again in the final tonight. I love the song A Time For Us by Johnny Mathis. The dress was beautiful and we managed to get all the steps right. I also managed to get into the emotion so I felt really great about the performance.

Worst Dance: Probably the samba. I didn't really execute it as correctly as I could have and my legs were really lazy. We still did well score-wise but I wasn't happy with it.

Most Embarrassing Moment: Forgetting the steps to the paso doble! I made up the last 30 seconds but because Matthew is so brilliant, he just followed me and we got through it. People said afterwards we did a good job of covering it up. We had a good giggle about that when we finished filming.

Best Backstage Secret: Ooh! I probably shouldn't be telling you this but it's the last night so it doesn't matter any more. We drink white wine backstage before the show and tell the bosses it's apple juice. Ha!

Favourite Outfit: All my costumes have been amazing but my Viennese waltz dress was one of my absolute faves. It was pink with lots of layers and it made me feel like Cinderella. It was beautiful.

Best Strictly Mate: Probably Letitia Dean and Kenny Logan. Tish because we're both girls and she's such fun. We had some good giggles together. Kenny and I had some brilliant banter. He's a top guy. And of course, my partner-in-crime Matthew.

Worst Injury: I did something to my knee in week three and had to have physio. We were doing the jive which is all about knee action and quick movements. It was touch and go. Thankfully I made a good recovery and things all turned out fine in the end.

Favourite Judge: I don't have one. Not because I don't like any of them! Each offers a different perspective.

Worst Judge: Arlene can be the scariest. Having said that, her comments are always constructive and helpful. I take on board what she's said.

Weight Lost: I honestly don't know. I don't "do" scales. I do the seafood diet. I see food and eat it! Ha ha! I've toned up a bit but when you're training your appetite increases.

Celebrity Fans: Lots of people who've come to watch the show have said lovely things about me - Michael Ball, The Fonz, Lisa Snowdon and the legend that is Cliff Richard.

Biggest Fan: My nan. She's obsessed with the show - probably more than me. She's been down at the studio quite a few times and she'll be there tonight.

Most Fanciable Contestant: Matthew Cutler, of course! That goes without saying. I wake up every morning and look forward to training with him. I love him.

I have a passion for dance, for raising money and for having fun and it's been great to do that with him. When I have to stop dancing with him I'll be very sad.

Alesha On Matt: He's a cheeky chappie. He's like a little brother to me and I always have a good laugh with him. He's good-looking so I can see why the ladies love him.

RAMPS' VERDICT

Last year's champion, cricketer Mark Ramprakash, 38, is backing Alesha to win.

He says: "Alesha's been the most consistent dancer. Even at the start, she was very good. Her timing is impeccable and she acts out the dances so well.

"In sport, if you score the most number of goals or the most runs, you're successful, and Alesha has scored the most 10s in the show's history.

"Matt has been inconsistent, but he's had some great routines and has a real flair for dancing.

"I think it was his salsa when he really caught the eye, and looked like he was dancing naturally and enjoying it."

MATT'S MOMENTS

Best Dance: The salsa was my favourite and my best dance. It's hard for a guy to let himself go like that, and we got two 10s from the judges. We're doing the salsa for the final.

Worst Dance: The Viennese waltz in week six. Arlene said I looked a bit "vacant" but I was concentrating too much on the steps.

Most Embarrassing Moment: Having my trousers pulled down by Kenny Logan during group dance rehearsals. Thanks, Kenny!

Best Backstage Secret: I kiss Anton Du Beke every time before I dance... on his head, that is, not on the lips

Favourite Outfit: The Ballroom tango outfit - that was cool. It was tails with a cravat and my hair was slicked back.

Best Mate On The Show: The Flavster. And Kenny Logan is fab - I call him Dad. He rang me the other morning and said "Hi, it's your Dad here".

Worst Injury: I snapped my knee ligaments. Ha, only joking! I've got a bit of a shoulder injury - we're doing a lot of lifts for our show dance so it has taken its toll on me a bit.

Favourite Judge: Len - he's the head judge and he doesn't mince his words.

Worst Judge: Arlene - she's tried to get us out of the competition twice in the dance-off. I thought she loved me, but obviously not.

Weight Lost: I've lost a stone and three pounds. The belly I was complaining about at the beginning has gone down.

Biggest Fan: My brother George - he's been to every show.

Celebrity Supporters: My fellow EastEnders cast members, including Kara Tointon, Kelly Shirlie and Barbara Windsor.

Most Fanciable Contestant/ DANCER: I really fancy Claudia Winkleman from It Takes Two.

Matt On Alesha: Alesha is an extremely talented dancer and naturally she finds it a lot easier than me. I hope she lets me win!

Strictly Come Dancing, tonight, BBC1, 5.50pm and 9.25pm

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Strictly 5

Dixon tipped for Strictly success

Singer Alesha Dixon is the bookmakers' favourite to win BBC One's ballroom show Strictly Come Dancing.

She is tipped 1/3, ahead of actor Matt Di Angelo on 9/4. Each will perform five dances with their professional partners for the series finale later.

Dixon, 29, admitted she was "scared and excited" by the dance-off, adding that she had been practising for hours every day to perfect her routines.

Di Angelo, 20, said he had been working on his nerves and hoped to "enjoy it".

Great friends

The actor, better known as Deano Wicks in EastEnders, has been using various techniques to keep his nerves under control.

"I've tried a number of things," he said. "I picture walking along a beach when I'm walking out from behind the curtain.

"Sounds stupid, but it worked last week fine."

Both competitors admitted that dancing had consumed their lives during the show's 12-week run.

"By the way, dancers are not human beings," joked Dixon, who used to sing and rap in girl group Mis-teeq.

"How can you be human and do what they do?"

However, the dancing duo have become great friends and confessed they would find it hard to face each other in the final.

"When you're competing against somebody, it would make it easier if you didn't like them," said Dixon.

"It would make my life easier if I didn't like him [Di Angelo]. It would make me more competitive."

Normally, three celebrities take part in the final round of the reality show. There will only be two this year after actress Kelly Brook pulled out due to the death of her father.

Dancing commences on BBC One at 1750 GMT with the results being revealed in a later show at 2125 GMT.

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Strictly 5

Series 5. What a ride!

We take a look back at the story of series 5

Can it really be the final tomorrow? Has it really been almost 3 months since this all began?

In the very first show, as our 14 contestants lined up for the first time on the dance floor, it seemed pretty clear that the competition this year would be fierce, and almost everyone was sure the girls would be wiping the floor and taking that trophy (apart from Kate, perhaps, who was on crutches and not dancing at this point!) The boys surely didn't stand a chance?

Poor Brian Capron, full of flu, was the first person to be knocked out, meaning too that the reigning professional Strictly champion, Karen Hardy, would be going home. In show 2 the girls took to the floor, wowing everyone, with Penny and Kelly coming joint first with the judges, scoring a mighty 33 points each! But sadly, one of the girls had to leave, and that girl was Stephanie. 'Thank God for that!' she exclaimed!

In show 3 the pressure was on as all of the couples took to the floor. Everyone was concerned about Kate's feet, but she soldiered on. Unfortunately her dancing left a lot to be desired, leaving her bottom of the judges' leader board with only 19 points. But it was Willie Thorne and his partner Erin who were next to leave, after failing to impress the judges with their Tango.

The results of show 4 left the nation stunned. After the shock of seeing two of the most promising dancers in the dance off – Penny and Gabby – there was not a dry eye in the house as the Judges chose to send Gabby and James home. It was a shocker, but just went to show that nobody is safe – everyone needs votes to stay in. It was also a shocker that Gabby's husband Kenny was still in it! Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the Logan household that week...

Show 5 stormed onto our screen with the Paso Doble – who could forget Kenny's kilt, and Brendan and Kelly's 'Capegate'- but unfortunately Dom's cheekiness just couldn't save him any longer, and the judges chose to send him and Lilia home. By show 6 most people were amazed that both Kate and Kenny were still in it! Matt and Flavia found themselves in the dance-off for the first time alongside Penny and Ian, but were saved by the judges to dance another week, sending an emotional Penny home. 'It's been the best time of my life' she told Bruce and Tess.

In show 7, Alesha and Matthew amazed everyone with their Waltz, and scored the highest mark of the series so far – a staggering 38, including the first 10 of the series from Arlene. But, after clinging onto the bottom of the judges' leader board since the beginning of the competition, it was time for Kate and Anton to dance their last dance. After thanking her partner, Kate said, 'I'm obviously sorry to go but I've had a cracking run!' And that she did!

Show 8 saw Alesha and Matthew shine yet again with an incredible high score of 39 points for their Cha Cha Cha, dancing to Beyonce's 'Crazy in Love'. Kelly and Brendan were criticised for their lack lustre Samba, and everyone was shocked to see them in the dance off, alongside John and Nicole, who had also failed to impress with their Samba. But after their fourth time in the dance off, it was sadly time to say goodbye to John as the judges voted him out of the competition.

Show 9 began with the sad news that, due to a family bereavement, Kelly Brooke had withdrawn from the competition. But, as they say, the show must go on, and the pressure was raised as there were now 2 dances per couple. The biggest star of the night was Gethin, sharing the top spot on the judges leader board with Alesha after burning up the dance floor (and his trousers) with his Salsa! Who was this, and what had they done to Gethin?! But, despite a great run and vast improvement, Kenny and Ola's Rumba left the judges cold, and he was next to leave the competition... 5 weeks after his wife Gabby!

With only four contestants left, the heat was on in show 10 as everyone wanted a place in the semi-finals. Gethin, the new 'Lothario of the dance floor,' amazed everyone yet again, this time with a saucy Samba, placing him on top of the judges leader board. But sadly Matt's nerves got the better of him resulting in him freezing on the spot and forgetting the routine in his Quickstep, and stumbling on his steps again in his Samba. Luckily, the public were behind him and saved him from the dreaded dance off. But it was yet another shocker as Alesha fell into the bottom 2 with Letitia. Letitia gave that last dance her all knowing that she would be going home, and the judges were unanimous in their decision to put Alesha through.

And so, here we had our final 3, and the most tense semi-final in the history of Strictly Come Dancing. Alesha, Matt and Gethin came out and gave it their all, with 10s galore from the judges, and Matt and Flavia receiving not only a standing ovation from Len, but series 5's first perfect score – a 10 from every judge! When it came to the results, nobody had any idea which way it would go, and Alesha cried as she was voted the only contestant with a guaranteed place in the final. So Matt and Gethin danced again, and although the judges were split, Len had the final say and saved Matt. So, sadly, we said goodbye to Gethin. 'I'm absolutely gutted,' he said, 'but it's been an incredible adventure.'

Which brings us here, to the final, and our two finalists, Alesha Dixon and Matt di Angelo. And so, tomorrow night, after 5 dances each, we will see one of them crowned the Strictly Come Dancing Champion

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Strictly 5

Tears for Strictly's Alesha

It seems that the pressure of preparing for tomorrow night's Strictly Come Dancing final is getting too much for Alesha Dixon.

The stunning former Mystique singer has wowed the judges and the show's fans with her dance moves, with rarely a foot wrong and consistent high marks from the first performance.

But in rehearsals for her final appearance Alesha has been occasionally bursting into tears as the pressure mounts, according to the show's host Tess Daly.

"Alesha gets so nervous on dance nights - so much that there have been a few tears between shows," the presenter told the Sun.

"I think the tension has really got to her - that and probably exhaustion."

Tess added that Alesha and her co-finalist Matt Di Angelo have been putting in more hours training than anyone else.

Matt and his partner Flavia Cacace may have seemed an unlikely pair for the final a few weeks ago when the EastEnders star's nerves got the better of him, but his top score of 40 - the first of the series - last week put him firmly in line to win the show.

However, he faces stiff competition from Alesha, who has scored more tens from the judges than anyone else.

"Alesha has performed outstandingly," Tess said.

"She and Matt are matching [last year's winners] Mark [Ramprakash] and Karen [Hardy] last year. I think Alesha and Matt will beat their track record."

The final is screened tomorrow night on BBC1 at 17:50 GMT, with the results shown at 21:25 GMT.

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Strictly 5

'Alesha's full of nerves'

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly has revealed how hot favourite Alesha Dixon has been struggling with the pressures of battling for this year's crown

The former Mis-Teeq singer has wowed the judges each week with her seemingly effortless performances on the dance floor with partner Matthew Cutler.

But, in an interview with The Sun, Tess revealed that it's been far from plain sailing for the star.

"Alesha gets so nervous on dance nights, so much that there have been a few tears between shows."

"I think the tension has really got to her - that and probably exhaustion.

"She and Matt have trained more than anyone else, putting in 38 hours in the week. But you wouldn't have known because she's a total professional."

Tess believes that Alesha will train even harder than Mark Ramprakash, who won last year's show with partner Karen Hardy.

She said: "Alesha has performed outstandingly. She and Matt are matching Mark and Karen last year. I think Alesha and Matt will beat their track record.

"Alesha keeps on breaking records - she's broken the record for scores of ten."

On Saturday night's live final on BBC1, Alesha and Matthew will dance against EastEnders actor Matt Di Angelo and his partner Flavia Cacace.

And Tess believes that the contest could still go either way. She said: "I’m so excited. I think it's all going to come down to the performances on the night, it's not cut and dried."

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Strictly 5

Third time lucky?

Darren and Lilia looking for their third Strictly title

Darren Gough and his dance partner Lilia Kopylova have been back in training looking for their third Strictly Come Dancing win.

The couple are taking part in this year's Christmas special and are hoping to add to the two titles they've already got under their belts.

As well as winning the 2005 series, Darren and Lilia won the Christmas special, after receiving the full 40 marks from the judges.

The couple clearly had a lot of fun getting back into the swing of things and both said they were really happy to be dancing together again.

'I've had two Strictly Come Dancing partners since,' says Lilia. 'Darren is special because we won together. I'm realising how much fun we've had.'

Despite doing so well in the past, Darren has revealed that he's worried about being up against some of the other guys in the competition.

'I'm a sportsman – I have a competitive edge but it's hard to compete with guys who have been training for the last 14 weeks,' he says. 'But it's good to come back to it and I'm thankful for the opportunity.'

'We've won twice together; it would be nice to win a third time.'

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Strictly 5

Judges: 'We're a motley crew'

Millions of viewers will watch tomorrow's final of Strictly Come Dancing - but it is the judges, not the contestants, who have become the stars of the show. And the rows are still exploding.

Flat-footed celebrities, corny Bruce Forsyth gags and the bickering of four middle-aged dance professionals is an unlikely recipe for aural and visual ecstasy. But this is the fifth year that Strictly Come Dancing has dazzled on Saturday and Sunday night television. Up to 12 million people have been tuning in and more are likely to switch on tomorrow, when former Mis-Teeq singer Alesha Dixon takes on EastEnders actor Matt di Angelo in the final. The celebrities come and go (often undertaking compelling personal "journeys" - in Strictly speak - along the way) but the four judges are ever present, sitting in a line from left to right in ascending order of generosity: Craig Revel Horwood, Arlene Phillips, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. In many ways they are the stars of the show.

As well as their professional judgments, the four serve up a soap opera within the programme, chuntering and squabbling like a family at Christmas. "You've got Bruno, the mad fiery Italian, you've got Craig who talks about the story of the dance, and Arlene who focuses on the physical side and then you get the old fuddy duddy ballroom judge [himself] who is always looking at the heels and the toes," explains Len. "Craig thinks his way of just going for the jugular is the best, Bruno thinks jumping up, gyrating his hips and going, 'Diva diva diva' is, and Arlene is always saying, 'Very musical arms and I love the shaping in your back.' We've all got our little ways."

In the week before the final, the rows they have been having all series are still popping and exploding, even offstage. "They all get on my nerves," moans Len, who is grumpy when I meet him because his groin is playing up. "You've got to understand, nearly everyone gets on my nerves. I don't like anyone really. It's like WC Fields once said, 'I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.'"

Craig, who I meet with Bruno (Strictly's bad and good cops are actually great mates; "Bruno cooks me chicken, don't you darling?" says Craig), is still annoyed with Len for criticising his critical judging style. "Len did go too far with me two weeks ago but he's entitled to his opinion," he says. "It was a major attack on me about my opinion and not being positive. I said it's not my job to do that. I'm not Len Goody Goody Two Shoes."

Len brings this up unprompted. "He calls me Goody Goody Goodman or something. Craig is the sort of person who would tell a child there is a toilet monster. He's got that nasty streak, but I admire him for it. You know the three hardest things in the world to do? Climb a wall that's leaning towards you. Kiss a girl who's leaning away from you. And criticise someone who's looking at you. That's a twist on Churchill's quote," he explains.

Bruno, typically, is emollient. "I have so many rows with Len on screen and it's live and his reaction is immediate and spontaneous and I don't think it is carried any further than the moment. He called me a pillock. Hah huh huh huh HAH! It takes one to know one. The situation creates that. It's the passion for the dance. You care so much."

Like any family, the four were thrown together by powers beyond their control: the BBC's casting folk seemed to trawl randomly through every dance school in the country to assemble the judging panel. Arlene, who made her name as choreographer for dance troupe Hot Gossip, joined ballroom judge and teacher Len in the pilot; then came Bruno, a choreographer on dozens of films and videos for the likes of Elton John and Tina Turner; Craig, who has helped choreograph numerous theatrical productions, including the Olivier award-winning choreography of Martin Guerre, and directed the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, reckons he was the last to be asked on, two days before the first show.

"When I first met them, I thought, blimey this is a motley crew," says Len. He believed the show needed four traditional ballroom judges but admits he was wrong. "That would have been terrible, you would have just had four of me." They all agree on this, at least. As Arlene puts it: "We have different passions. We love different forms of dance. We are very, very different characters. Everything about us is so utterly different and yet we all have one goal when we are together which is to judge Strictly."

None held out much hope for the show before it started but when the first episode was recorded they sensed a buzz in the large live audience. The following week the producers made an interesting tweak: Craig and Bruno swapped positions because it was too downbeat to finish with Craig's critical comments (already attracting boos). The show's warmth and ability to entertain everyone from children to pensioners soon won over millions of viewers and the format was sold around the world. Just don't call it reality TV. "It is a reinvention of the variety show, with competition and entertainment," says Bruno. "It's more connected to the big variety shows from 30 years ago than it is to Celebrity Fuck Off I Don't Know Who You Are."

Craig sniggers. "Any wonder we get gagged, darling?"

Born in Australia, Craig is cheerier and gentler in real life than in judging mode, where he's the pantomime villain. An outraged viewer once slapped him in the street. "She said, 'You bugger!' because I'm so nasty to people." Is he too cruel? "I get booed for giving an eight and in my world that's high marks. But the audience's expectations are higher. I say something nice they think I'm just going to whack out a 10, willy-nilly, but actually I don't."

Arlene thinks she is as critical as Craig, but he "speaks with his head, I speak with my heart," she says.

Craig insists the celebrities get off lightly. "This is prep school in comparison to what you're told when you're a dancer," he says.

Bruno nods. "It is. People used to hit me with a bloody stick." He makes a kerrrswitch! noise. "With a stick! Yeaaah! My Russian ballet teacher had a cane." He jumps up and mimes the swatting of his legs. Craig adds swishing noises. "Pow!" shouts Bruno.

Why doesn't he wield a cane in the final?

"I'd love to," says Craig.

"You'd love to!" screeches Bruno. "It's payback time for Craig. All those years of abuse."

"You've just got to get over it," says Craig. He continues: "All the sports people are brrrilllliant on the show because they can take criticism. They don't ever take it personally. They go, 'OK, that's something physical I've got to work on.' Actors, however, are entirely different creatures. They are so emotional, so blocked; they have hundreds of thousands of brick walls that one has to get through in order to change them."

"You don't like actors, do you?" says Bruno. "Hah huh huh huh HAH!"

The judges insist they are impartial but happily admit they have favourites based on ability. "Everyone said last year I was Emma Bunton mad but the only reason I was Emma Bunton mad was because Emma Bunton could bloody dance," says Craig. "And the only reason I'm Alesha mad is because she can dance. I don't favour them in my scoring but I do champion people who are good. As if I'm going to champion someone like Fiona Phillips or Kate Garraway for goodness sake. I'd be ridiculed for the rest of my life."

Poor Phillips is mentioned by every judge as one of the worst dancers they have ever seen. Her apparent failure to improve is an exception, however, because Strictly does visibly change people. Leaden-legged elephants discover their inner gazelle; tortured introverts unleash the expressive performer that was always screaming to get out.

Last year, cricketer Mark Ramprakash looked like a man finding himself for the first time when he won the series with some spine-tinglingly passionate dances. Arlene admits Ramprakash is her favourite ever celebrity dancer. "Everyone teases me about Mark but he was very softly spoken, very shy, very inward-looking. He would get out on the dancefloor and he said a million words through his dance, and the excitement of watching somebody so quiet just explode on the dancefloor was thrilling," she says. "Everybody says it's changed him. He's so much more outgoing now. Dance can change your life in lots of ways."

This year, the main journey has been taken by Gethin Jones, the wholesome Blue Peter presenter. After he enlisted an acting coach to inject some sexiness into his dancing, he moved like a new man. In the semi-final last weekend, however, he was eliminated as Di Angelo earned four 10s from the judges and, in the "dance off", was voted through by the judges. Are the two best dancers in the final? "No. Probably not," says Len. The viewers may complain the judges took that decision but Len says the audience (whose telephone votes usually decide who stays on) should have "kicked off" Di Angelo after he suffered a disastrous attack of nerves and forgot his steps two weeks ago. "The viewers come to people's rescue thinking they are doing them a favour and then moan at the judges because Gethin is gone," he says. "Gethin shouldn't have gone. Matt should have gone two weeks ago, when the judges had him 20 points below anyone else."

The newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and actress Jill Halfpenny won the first two series but cricketers Darren Gough and Ramprakash were victors in 2005 and 2006 as excellent women dancers such as Zoe Ball and Emma were knocked out. What Craig calls the "emotionally challenged" voting public appear to favour the men over the women - which could make Alesha ("Manchester United" to Matt's "Watford" according to Len) vulnerable in the final.

Strictly voters "go on emotional journeys with these people because they can't see the technical faults," says Craig. "If I say something really bad about someone you can guarantee a million people will be on the telephone saying, 'I'll get him back.' It's really bad. They should be voting on dance ability."

Are viewers tougher on the more gifted women dancers? Len sees a "scenario" he says. "I would imagine far more middle-aged women than middle-aged men vote. I imagine them looking at Matt [and thinking] 'a bit of eye candy, a hunky young dude'. And they look at Alesha and they are sitting there eating their fourth KitKat and they've just had three square meals and a fish supper, all bloated out, and they go 'Bugger her, I'm not voting for that.'"

With his immaculate shoes and bow tie, Len is very old school and he and Forsyth often direct sexist jibes at Arlene, teasing her when she praises the young male dancers. Does she ever feel ganged up on? "It does get to me, it really does," she says. "It's outdated. It's not correct, the 'little woman' thing. What do you want me to do, go and get you a cup of tea, guys? I just smile and go along with it," she says.

But she says nearly stormed off the set two weeks ago. She was praising a dancer and wanted to add a caveat. "I said, 'Can I have a but?' and Len was going, 'Yeah, you've got a big butt.' That is so in bad taste. But I don't want to start on a Saturday night. That's not entertainment for the audience. If I start on any of them, and go, 'You can't say this or you can't say that' I'd be wiping the floor with them but it would take a hell of a long time."

Len laughs off the row. "It meant nothing. It was a joke. She can hold her own, don't you worry." Is she picked on in a sexist way? "I don't think so at all. We are all friends." He turns to the (slim) BBC press officer, who is sitting nearby. "In the same way as I might say to Carly, 'Your arse looks big in those jeans Carly.' Do you know what I mean? I'd say to Bruno, 'What the hell have you got on there?' He wears these little black leather jackets. It's not the fact that Arlene's a female or Bruno's a male, it's just my way of talking."

Another reason for Strictly's appeal may be that the judges all have an attractive, everyday eccentricity; none of them has been famous for most of their working lives. For decades they have quietly worked behind the scenes and when Strictly finishes, and they have enjoyed their traditional end-of-season meal out together, they return to their day jobs. Arlene is doing new stage versions of Sleeping Beauty and Flashdance next year; Craig is busy with the Ballet Boyz; Len still runs his dance school in Dartford. But Strictly has changed their lives. Bruno is on TV all the time now, judging the US version with Len and beginning a new American dance show in January. "When the tide arrives, it's no good trying to swim against it," Bruno says. "I can't believe my luck. We've been working 30 years in the business and all of a sudden these things do change your life. I'm very grateful. Thank you."

The judges are generous to a fault about Forsyth even praising his "no business like showbusiness dancing" style, as Craig puts it. Len reckons some of his one-liners are a "little bit corny" but they love his improvised stuff. Craig chuckles. "There was one time when I said, 'That was painful to watch' and he said, 'You know what Craig, you're painful to listen to.'" Bruno and Craig collapse with laughter.

"I've heard people say he's getting on a bit now but who would you have instead?" says Len. Could the show continue without him? Len meanders off on another of his "scenarios". "If all the judges, producers, Bruce and Tess, the whole lot of us, were going down to Brighton in a coach and it crashed and we all got killed, Strictly would be on next year. None of us are bigger than the show. The show will go on, I'm sure."

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Strictly 5

Grand Final Dances

This week both couples will have to perform 5 dances:

Alesha & Matthew will be performing the Waltz, Cha Cha Cha and Jive, which will be to the Judges choice of music.

Matt & Flavia will be performing the American Smooth, Salsa and to the Judges choice of music, the Quickstep

In the results show the two finalists will perform a group Viennese Waltz and a Show dance.

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Strictly 5

Preview: Music for the final

Find out which songs our two finalists will be dancing on Saturday

On Saturday each couple will dance five times in total. In the main show our two finalists will perform their favourite Ballroom dance, their favourite Latin dance and a judges' choice, which involves both couples dancing to the same piece of music which can include more than one type of dance.

Here's a sneak preview of the songs that will feature in the main show. Can you guess which couple will be performing to which track – and which song is the judges' choice?

* A Time For Us - Johnny Mathis

* For Once In My Life - Michael Buble

* Crazy In Love - Beyoncé

* Vehicle - Carlos Oliva

* We Love To Boogie - Marc Bolan

In the results show at 9.25pm the two finalists will perform a group Viennese Waltz and a Show dance where unlimited lifts are permitted.

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Strictly 5

Ramps returns!

Mark and Karen rediscover their magical chemistry in training

Mark Ramprakash has been back in training with his partner Karen ahead of this year's Christmas special.

And despite not having danced together for a year, the couple still have that chemistry that was so apparent in their training sessions.

'Mark hasn't changed at all, in the slightest,' says Karen. 'It feels like we've slipped into the same relationship as before and that's the magical chemistry. Once he's working hard that's when the team gels and we're up and running again.'

'Even though Mark and I haven't danced for a year now it was a surprise to see I can still read his facial expressions. When he goes quiet I'm thinking 'oh no here comes Scrooge, Mr Grumpy'. And then you see a little sparkle in his eye and that means he's absolutely loving what he's doing. And when he brings out the big smile then I've made magic!'

And Mark's certainly enjoyed himself. 'We have a lot of fun in the studio,' he says. 'Karen's got a great personality. She's constantly talking! Throughout series four Karen and I got to know each other really well and she can read me like a book – anything on my face. If I'm frustrated she knows to back off!'

So the magic is back and Mark and Karen want to give us something special this year. 'Being asked to do the Christmas special is about one thing and one thing only - and that's about letting everybody at home have a great fun time,' says Karen. Now there's one thing we can cross off our Christmas list!

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