As the music cut out halfway through, the pair danced on, receiving a rousing reception. The adjudicators were on their feet, with newcomer to the panel Anton Du Beke struggling to keep his emotions in check. A streak of perfect 10s confirmed that the audience had witnessed something truly special. Their lyrical Romeo and Juliet-themed showdance similarly received a perfect score of 40.
But it was also a historic night for runner-up Whaite, who finished neck and neck with Ayling-Ellis in the judges’s scoring. He and pro Radebe were the first all-male couple to appear on Strictly. “It’s all about visibility,” Radebe said following their stunning opening rumba to Sting’s Shape of My Heart. “I’m a really shy person. This has shown me that confidence is something that you learn.We felt the pressure on our shoulders at times,” added Whaite. “I’ve really had to push through.”
The finalists had been introduced dancing in front of huge glowing stars in an opening pro dance to the strains of Boy Meets Girl’s Waiting for a Star to Fall. Later there was a guest-turn by Ed Sheeran who, ever the helpful elf, popped up to read out the phone number for the public vote (as did 2020 winner Bill Bailey).
There was also the traditional group dance featuring contestants from earlier in the season including comedian Judi Love, Tom Fletcher of McFly and actor Greg Wise, aka Mr Emma Thompson. Absent were comedian Robert Webb, who’d left the series earlier owing to health issues and influencer Tilly Ramsay who had tested positive for Covid during the week.