Vanessa Feltz on tear-stained Strictly – Whatever became of the stiff upper lip

Strictly: Craig gets emotional after Ellie’s ‘flawless’ performance

Was there ever so tear-stained a Strictly Come Dancing final? Whatever became of the British stiff upper lip? Faces wobbled. Voices cracked and broke. Staunch Boadicea Shirley Ballas wept copiously at the denouement of nearly every routine.

Anton Du Beke asked the rhetorical question: ‘Why am I getting emotional?’ Craig Revel Horwood was in bits and Motsi Mabuse was so moved she actually moved – onto her feet and pretty much stayed standing in perpetual ovation.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman were in sobbing overdrive. As for the audience, striving not to weep through an entire box of tissues in Paso Doble number one – frankly, we were done for. Strictly final 2023 will forever go down in history as the night when Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin’s celestial perfection, enshrined by the awe-stricken judges in a veritable cluster of 10s – was ignored by the voting public in favour of Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola, the most dramatically improved.

That’s what we love about this beloved televisual experience. It can be clearer than crystal that one couple’s technical, artistic and spiritual performance trumps the others’ yet the verdict rests with those on the sofa who factor in all sorts of other ingredients.

We all knew Layton was too talented, smooth, polished and professional to be permitted to lift the Glitterball. The audience’s desire for a ‘Strictly journey’ is insatiable and he was simply too brilliant on day one.

READ MORE Ellie Leach’s four-word message to ‘boyfriend’ Vito after emotional Strictly win

Lots of us hoped beautiful Bobby Brazier whose late mother Jade Goody we remember so vividly, would win the day.

He arrived quite literally never having heard of a waltz or tango and evolved into an intuitively exquisite dancer before our very eyes.

His partner Dianne Buswell was enthralled by his natural affinity for music and interpretation.

His dad Jeff Brazier, brother and loving step-mum led the weekly sobbing.

The judges said they adored him and felt a career in Hollywood beckoned.

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Lots of us hoped this sweet Bambi of a boy would emerge triumphant.

On the night the tension was enough to stop us mid-munch of our Yule logs.

Could Ellie, the only surviving woman, really eclipse her eye-wateringly impressive rivals?

She began the series shy, a little awkward, insecure about her looks and abilities.

Each week she appeared sleeker, more assured, her confidence expanding before our very eyes.

Even if there was no romance between Ellie and Vito, his affection and care for her shone through our screens.

Under his patient tutelage, she was a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis. Talk about a Strictly story! Ellie was irresistible.

Yes, all the previous contestants bar Amanda Abbington schlepped back in for a last hurrah. Yes, Cher had a bash at cashing in on the Christmas spirit.

Yes everyone Tess and Claudia included was dressed in homage to the Glitterball, except Shirley who was togged out in bridal white and evoked the mood of an Alpine Noel.

The whole epic event was a superlative end to a truly mesmerising series entirely unrecognisable as Craig reminded us from the sedate series 1 of yesteryear when Natasha Kaplinsky trotted round the floor with as much athleticism as your octogenarian grandma.

The show has come a long way baby and we are privileged and brimming with comfort and joy to have been part of it.

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