Presenter Zoe Ball was moved to tears in the last hours before the Strictly Come Dancing final as the remaining contestants opened up about what the show has meant to them.
In the last episode of spin-off series It Takes Two, competition finalists Danny Mac, Louise Redknapp and Ore Oduba agreed that the show had been the “best experience” of their lives.
Catching Ore’s tears as he revealed how he had made a lifelong friend in partner Joanne Clifton, Zoe said: “The cumulative emotion is getting to me.”
Ore, who stunned viewers with his dynamic jive earlier in the competition, said that from the moment he met Joanne: “Regardless of what was going to happen, I knew I found a friend. She won’t be able to get rid of me.”
Joanne returned the sentiment in a tearful video statement shot earlier in the week, saying: “He made my Strictly experience so special.”
For former popstar Louise, the competition has been about more than just dancing as she thanked partner Kevin Clifton for helping her find the confidence to perform again.
In an equally tearful video, she said: “Kevin gave me the confidence to get back on the stage and dance, which I never thought I would get again, so I am very grateful to him.”
Her husband, former footballer Jamie Redknapp, added in a filmed statement: “I think she has enjoyed being back out there, it’s been like seeing the old Louise again.”
But while the mother of two said that winning the coveted Strictly glitter ball would “be the icing on the cake”, she added that “there is nothing in me that wouldn’t be happy” for the other finalists.
Also commenting on the prospect of winning the show, Mac said his only motivation would be on behalf of his professional dance partner, Oti Mabuse.
“Honest to God,” he told Zoe as he sat between both women on the sofa, “I would only want to win the glitter ball for this girl next to me, to see her lift it, for all she has given me.”
During the hour-long show broadcast on BBC Two on Friday, the finalists’ friends and families made heartfelt tributes, while special guests Alfie Boe and Michael Ball performed live songs following the number one success of their recent duet album.
Viewers were also given a sneak preview behind the scenes of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.
Due to be broadcast over the Christmas weekend, it is being filmed at Knebworth House with guest appearances from former series contestants.
The Strictly Come Dancing 2016 combined final and results show will air on BBC One on Saturday at 6.40pm.