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Strictly Come Dancing 2018 week 13 grand final recap

Stacey, Joe, Ashley and Faye battled it out to win the series but who went home with the glitterball trophy?

Strictly Come Dancing
Credit: BBC

The Strictly Come Dancing 2018 grand final took place tonight on BBC One as the four remaining couples battled it out to pick up the glitterball trophy.

Ashley Roberts, Faye Tozer, Joe Sugg and Stacey Dooley had more pressure than ever to deliver as they each had to tackle not one, but three dances – a judges’ choice, a couple’s choice and their showdance. The race has been such a close one this year with Joe and Stacey nipping at the heels of Ashley and Faye for weeks, and any of them would be worthy winners.

Sadly Lauren Steadman wouldn’t be joining them, after she and partner AJ Pritchard lost the dance-off to Ashley and Pasha (who emerged victorious for the third time on the trot) in last week’s semi-final.

The evening also featured a musical performance from Michael Bublé and a sensational opening routine from Strictly’s professional dancers and the four finalists. All of this year’s eliminated contestants also returned, performing together for one last time.

Find out who wowed, who disappointed and who went home with the glitterball trophy by reading on…

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Credit: BBC

After surviving three consecutive dance-offs, could Ashley and Pasha defy the odds to hoist the glitterball aloft? For their  judges’ choice routine, the pair performed their Movie Week Salsa to (I’ve Had The) Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. In their VT Ashley spoke about the challenge of performing two dances and the high of getting a perfect score before finding herself in the bottom two, as well as the importance of perfecting the routine this time round.

The dance: Right from the off it was clear Ashley was really enjoying performing this dance. She had the biggest smile on her face and it was lovely to see her having fun on the Strictly dancefloor. I thought she had good hip action, great synchronisation with Pasha and smooth transitions in the lifts (including *that* iconic one!). Her free hand was much better this time and I liked all the references to the film sequence too. It finished with an incredible final lift and was the perfect way to start the show.

The comments: Shirley said Ashley managed to take the dance to the next level and that she was ‘fearless’ and ‘brilliant’. Bruno thought it ‘proved the first time wasn’t a fluke – the girl can dance’. Craig said Ashley had taken the notes on board and made the dance live, calling it ‘a-ma-zing’. Darcey thought the lift wowed everyone and praised Ashley for nailing the lift and her determination, calling her a ‘joy’.

The score: 10, 10, 10, 10 – 40

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Credit: BBC

Stacey is the bookies’ favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing 2018, and for me has been an absolute joy to watch all series. She and Kevin opened their attempt to take home the glitterball with their Foxtrot to Hi Ho Silver Lining by Jeff Beck. In their VT Stacey talked about how pleased she was with her marks last week and how lucky she felt to have reached this stage, as well as aiming to strengthen her frame in the routine.

The dance: I loved how much personality and playfulness Stacey brought to this routine. She also balanced it brilliantly with the right elegant and poise needed for a Foxtrot, and had great timing and synchronisation with Kevin. I also thought she moved across the floor really well, with some nice heel leads, and her posture was much improved from the previous performance too. A unique and entertaining routine that was a great showcase for her dance ability and why she’s made it to the final.

The comments: Bruno said Stacey has the unique ability to inhabit every character and bring the dance to life. Craig could see how Stacey had worked on the frame and called it ‘absolutely gorgeous’. Darcey praised Stacey’s top line and core strength, as well as her natural charm and elegance. Shirley was impressed by Stacey’s footwork and musicality, and said she’d had a ‘magnificent’ journey.

The score: 9, 10, 10, 10 – 39

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice

Credit: BBC

Faye has been consistently excellent all the way through Strictly Come Dancing 2018 and has a strong chance to win the whole thing. She and Giovanni performed their Viennese Waltz to Seal’s version of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World for their first dance of the evening. In their VT Faye spoke about the emotional rollercoaster of last week’s show, as well as wanting to be stronger and more confident in her performance and making sure nerves didn’t get the better of her.

The dance: I loved the drama and passion of this routine and thought Faye acted it absolutely brilliantly. Her connection with Giovanni was so intense you could practically feel the heat coming off the pair of them! She had great control in the spins and the fleckerls too, as well as a great frame and topline and some gorgeous footwork. Overall this was a powerful and emotional performance that Faye took to another level and showed off a different side of her personality. My favourite routine of the evening so far.

The comments: Craig ‘rather enjoyed that’ and loved it even more this time round. Darcey said Faye was the best ballroom dancer in the competition and praised the unusual drama and ‘superb’ fleckerl. Shirley felt Faye had worked on the technique and was ‘amazing’. Bruno said Faye ‘always delivers’ and that he’d never seen a Viennese Waltz like it.

The score: 10, 10, 10, 10 – 40

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell

Credit: BBC

Joe has been my surprise package of Strictly Come Dancing 2018 – it’s been great to see him growing in confidence and pushing himself every week. He and Dianne kicked off their Grand Final performances with their Paso Doble, danced to Pompeii by Bastille. In their VT Joe talked about how shocked and excited he was to reach the final, as well as his determination to not let the judges down, particularly focusing on his feet and arms.

The dance: Joe oozed confidence from the off in this routine, with great shaping in his arms and hitting some great lines. I thought he really led the dance well, driving across the floor and directing Dianne’s movement too. There was still the occasional sloppy moment with his free hand, but overall this was a great Paso with plenty of drama, intensity and attack, and a vast improvement on the first attempt. Plus he pulled off the knee slide!

The comments: Darcey said the difference was outstanding, praising Joe’s use of his body and the shaping of his arms, and that he owned the dance. Shirley gave Joe a standing ovation and loved the oval shape through his body, as well as his determination. Bruno said it wasn’t just Joe’s hair that was red hot and called the Paso ‘incandescent’. Craig thought the shaping was a little bit forced, but said it was ‘wonderful’ to see Joe’s commitment.

The score: 9, 10, 10, 10 – 39

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Credit: BBC

Ashley and Pasha performed their Showdance to Birdy’s Keeping Your Head Up. They’ve already scored one perfect 40 tonight – could they make it two? In their VT Ashley spoke about how excited she was about the no-rules element of the showdance, as well as wanting the routine to be big and explosive. However, she also struggled with the amount of different elements involved, including the revolving stage…

The dance: The dance began with Ashley descending from the ceiling in a heap of ribbons before getting into hold with Pasha. I loved the echoes back to the Contemporary style of their Couples’ Choice routine and thought there was a really nice blend of drama and emotion in the performance. The lifts were slick – particularly the final leaping catch – and she coped well with the revolving dancefloor too. Overall it was an ambitious and well-executed routine packed with content that highlighted her incredible skill as a dancer and why she deserves her place in the final.

The comments: Shirley thought Ashley stretched herself beyond limits and praised her for bringing life and style to the Strictly dancefloor. Bruno called it ‘sensational’, singling out Ashley’s athleticism, emotion and storytelling. Craig had a small problem with Ashley’s right toe but then ‘decided to get over myself’. Darcey said the ‘stunning’ routine showcased all of Ashley’s strengths and praised her risk-taking and expression.

The score: 10, 10, 10, 10 – 40

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

Credit: BBC

Next up were Stacey and Kevin, who chose Wilson Pickett’s Land Of A Thousand Dances for their Showdance soundtrack. In their VT Kevin spoke about the story of the routine, themed around getting ready for the Strictly final, whilst Stacey spoke about the excitement of taking risks and the daunting nature of the dance, including its solo opening and many moving parts.

The dance: Stacey showed off her sassy side in the humorous opening side-by-side section, which had a great cheeky, playful quality about it. I thought the routine really highlighted all her skills as a dancer and her utter love of dancing, particularly in the jive and commercial sections – the enormous grin on her face said it all. If I had one tiny criticism it was not pointing her toes on her kicks and flicks, but overall that was a high-energy routine with plenty of flair, spectacular tricks at the end and thoroughly entertaining.

The comments: Bruno said it was ‘a medley of Stacey’s greatest hits’ and showcased her best qualities. Craig wasn’t that keen and thought it was too bitty with a lot of running around. Darcey thought it was a great mash-up of all Stacey’s best bits and iconic moves, highlighting the snippet from her Minions Charleston. Shirley said it was power-packed and that Stacey looked comfortable in what she was doing, pulling off a ‘very, very nice’ routine.

The score: 8, 9, 9, 10 – 36

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice

Credit: BBC

For their Showdance, Faye and Giovanni performed their routine to Lullaby Of Broadway by Harry Warren and Al Dublin. In their VT, Faye spoke about wanting to include an element of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers style, as well as her nerves and the pressure of delivering a perfect Showdance.

The dance: Faye opened the routine dancing on a giant top hat, and straight away it was like something from a classic movie. She had great swagger and sway both on her own and with Giovanni, and absolutely flew across the floor once she got down, with some gorgeous lifts and a lovely light Quickstep section. Her synchronicity with Giovanni was great as always and the whole thing was a complete delight from start to finish. I loved it!

The comments: Craig called it ‘fab-u-lous’. Darcey said it was a dream routine, praising Faye’s clean lines and said she looked like an old movie star. Shirley thought it was synchronised to a tee and Faye brought Broadway to Strictly. Bruno declared ‘hooray for Faye!’ and that she brought old Hollywood movie stars to life.

The score: 10, 10, 10, 10 – 40

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell

Credit: BBC

Joe got his highest score yet with his Paso Doble earlier in the evening – could he and Dianne go one better with their Showdance to I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor by Arctic Monkeys? In their VT Joe described the routine as ‘one big celebration’ and the need to take risks, but was concerned about what could go wrong given the amount of content and differing styles in the dance.

The dance: This was definitely a rock-and-roll performance from Joe, with some great footwork as he and Dianne danced on top of an amp and leapt around on mini trampolines. It was a feisty, fast-paced performance with some great theatrical touches, particularly in the Lindy Hop section, as well as plenty of lifts and tricks which he pulled off very well. I loved him bursting through the speaker and smashing his guitar at the end too! My only criticism would be he seemed to tire a little after the last Quickstep section but otherwise this was a rollercoaster romp through his Strictly journey and an incredibly enjoyable Showdance.

The comments: Darcey said ‘the wild beast has been let loose’ and praised Joe for keeping his control throughout. Shirley called it ‘absolutely brilliant’ and said Joe didn’t miss a beat in his Quickstep. Craig really enjoyed it – it had the quirk of a Charleston – and that it was fantastic. Bruno, meanwhile, led a singalong of Queen’s We Will Rock You.

The score: 9, 10, 10, 10 – 39

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Ashley and Pasha chose their Trolls-themed Charleston as their favourite dance. In their VT, Ashley spoke about the dream of being on Strictly and the friendship she’s developed with Pasha, as well as her favourite moments – such as her Contemporary routine – and the lows of being in the dance-off. We also heard from Pasha, Ashley’s mum and her Pussycat Dolls bandmate Kimberley Wyatt about how proud they were of her.

The dance: I really enjoyed this dance first time round and it was definitely a good choice for Ashley. As well as her great co-ordination and synchronisation with Pasha, she captured the spirit and lightness of the dance really well and completely inhabited the character. It was lovely to see a bit of her silly and fun side, and combined with her two earlier routines showed just how versatile she’s been throughout the competition.

The comments: Shirley said Ashley had ‘surprised and delighted us’ and was ‘extraordinarily fantastic’. Bruno called it ‘another showstopper’ and a feast for the senses, praising Ashley’s ability to keep raising the bar and push herself. Craig said the dance was full of character and wished he could dance like Ashley. Darcey thought it showed Ashley’s versatility and praised the detail in her face.

The score: 10, 10, 10, 10 – 40

Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton

For their favourite dance, Stacey and Kevin went for their Paso Doble – dubbed the ‘Paso Dooley’ by Stacey. In their VT, Stacey spoke about how she never imagined she’d get this far and how much she’s loved her time on Strictly, including her partnership with Kevin, whilst her mum and boyfriend – as well as Kevin – spoke very warmly about how proud they were of her.

The dance: Stacey delivered this routine brilliantly yet again. It was full of drama and attack, with tremendous pace across the floor and some great arm shaping from her, as well as fantastic acting and tons of sass. I really liked her clipped movements in the side-by-side section with Kevin too. It was clear she absolutely loved performing the routine and it definitely felt like a worthy finish to her Strictly journey.

The comments: Bruno said it was an authentic, beautiful Paso Doble and praised Stacey’s power and passion. Craig agreed – it was driven and the release and slow walk were a standout. Darcey called ‘Stacey’ fierce and loved her attitude and command of the dance. Shirley said Stacey was like a professional dancer and applauded her for her journey and the joy she’s brought to Strictly.

The score: 9, 10, 10, 10 – 39

Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice

Faye and Giovanni’s favourite dance was their Couple’s Choice Theatre/Jazz routine. In their VT Faye spoke very emotionally about how proud she was on her achievements of being on Strictly Come Dancing, particularly gaining in confidence, and how grateful she was to Giovanni for believing in her. She also received messages of support from her husband, parents and son, as well as Giovanni.

The dance: Someone cast Faye in a West End musical, stat! Her acting has come on leaps and bounds throughout this series, and her musicality is just fantastic – she hit every beat and accent of the music perfectly. She also had great control in the splits and fabulous synchronicity with Giovanni, and the final catch was just as spectacular as the first time. It was a slick, cool and passionate routine and an outstanding moment from the whole series.

The comments: Craig said, ‘love, love, love’. Darcey thought it was one of her favourite dances of the series and kept getting better and better. Shirley called Faye ‘outstanding’ and said she’s blossomed and grown throughout the show. Bruno described it as ‘a-ma-zing’.

The score: 10, 10, 10, 10 – 40

Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell

Closing the show – and the series – were Joe and Dianne, who picked their week 2 Charleston as their favourite dance. In their VT Joe talked about how many great memories of Strictly he’s leaving with, including getting his first 10s in Blackpool and his relationship with Dianne (who got a little teary!). We also heard from his aunt and uncle, nan and sister Zoe (AKA Zoella) who sent him messages of support.

The dance: I didn’t love this routine the first time, but I’m very pleased to say Joe has changed my mind. He really brought a sense of fun to the dance, as well as a fantastic energy level and great stamina, and coped well with all the tricks and lifts – they looked completely effortless. I also thought he acted the dance very well and injected a ton of personality into the routine, with some excellent footwork and good swivel action. A great performance to end on and a brilliant finish to Strictly 2018.

The comments: Darcey said Joe was the surprise of the series and praised the tremendous amount of work he’s put in throughout the last few months. Shirley thought he was kind, gentlemanly and a superstar. Bruno called him ‘the last man standing’ and that he was wonderful to watch. Craig thought the swivel on Joe’s left foot was a little bit slow, but loved the dance and said he was ‘absolutely great’.

The score: 9, 9, 10, 10 – 38

The leaderboard for the night was:

Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev – 40 + 40 + 40 = 120
Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice – 40 + 40 + 40 = 120
Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell – 39 + 39 + 38 = 116
Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton – 39 + 36 + 39 = 114

Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas Special will air at 5.30pm on Christmas Day on BBC One.

View our gallery of all the dances from the Strictly Come Dancing 2018 Grand Final:

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