Underdog takes 'Strictly' title

Underdog takes 'Strictly' title

Underdog Chris Hollins won over the public to take this year’s 'Strictly Come Dancing' crown last night.

The BBC sports reporter’s energetic performances, which earned repeated standing ovations, saw him defeat the hot favourite – Hollyoaks actor Ricky Whittle – to win the seventh series of the show.

Hollins, 38, was partnered by Ola Jordan who burst into tears when the result was announced last night.

After being told he had won the BBC1 show’s glitterball trophy, Hollins praised his opponents and thanked supporters, family, friends and the team of professionals.

“Last and definitely not least, little Ola chops,” he added. “Thank you so much for believing in me all the way along.

“I did test you a little bit and the jive and quickstep come to mind.

“Thank you so much you lovely little girl.”

An emotional Jordan said: “You have been the best partner.

“You’ve been a dream to be working with.

“Thank you so much because that experience was fantastic.”

It was a surprise to many that Hollins made it to the final at all after an uninspiring start in the contest.

He was also told by the judges that he often had a “constipated” expression on his face while performing.

Last night judge Bruno Tonioli congratulated Jordan for turning a “frog into a prince” after the couple danced the fox-trot.

Head judge Len Goodman praised Hollins’ Charleston – which earned a perfect score from the panel – as “classic entertainment” and said the final was “the entertainer v the dancer”.

He finished his last dance, which featured a handstand and a one-handed lift, by jumping on to the judges’ table.

Whittle topped the judges’ scoreboard last night but was less popular with viewers whose votes determined the winner.

He vowed to keep dancing and said: “I’ve had an absolutely amazing time – I’ve had the time of my life.”

Whittle’s fancy footwork had helped him to remain bookies’ favourite ahead of the final clash despite his November arrest for allegedly hitting a photographer with his car in Liverpool city centre.

The actor, who plans to take legal action over the incident, ended up in the bottom two contestants after the drama.

In last night’s final, Whittle wowed the judges yet again by performing a lift which spun partner Natalie Lowe, balanced on the back of his neck, without using his hands.

Craig Revel Horwood said his “jaw was dropping” as he watched the manoeuvre and described Whittle as “lift-tastic”, while Tonioli said: “You have no idea how difficult it is to do a series of lifts of that difficulty so easily – it takes years and years.”

But despite being told he moved like a professional, Whittle – who plans to quit Channel 4 soap 'Hollyoaks' next year to try to make his name in Hollywood - lost out in the public vote.

The final also included a performance by host Bruce Forsyth and judge Alesha Dixon, who sang a duet of the Frank Sinatra standard 'Something’s Gotta Give'.

Celebrities who were voted off in earlier rounds also returned to the dancefloor, along with competitors from previous series such as Rachel Stevens and Lisa Snowdon.

Forsyth said series seven contestant cricketer Phil Tufnell was unable to attend because he had flu, although Olympic athlete Jade Johnson – who withdrew from the show after an injury – was finally able to perform the tango she had been rehearsing when she hurt herself.

Actress Laila Rouass, who came fourth in this year’s contest, was also unable to attend last night’s final.

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