Joe McElderry was crowned winner of this year’s X Factor competition in a closely-fought contest with Olly Murs last night.
Eighteen-year-old Joe’s victory wins him a £1m recording contract, and is also expected to get him the Christmas number one with a cover of the Miley Cyrus hit The Climb, performed by both finalists.
The song’s message — that it’s the taking part that counts — should hopefully console Olly, who threatened to break down in tears at several points in the star-studded final, even before the result was announced.
There were tears in his eyes by the close of his performance of The Climb, tears which multiplied as he was shown messages of support from family and friends back in Colchester.
The doe-eyed Joe from South Shields in the north of England displayed a cooler but no less starry approach. Instead his mentor Cheryl Cole cried enough for both of them.
The Girls Aloud singer, who has also released a solo album, said: “It all takes me back to when I started on a talent show all those years ago.
“I have lived the dream and now I want you to live the dream as well.”
Earlier, Joe’s performance of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing prompted judge Louis Walsh to shower him with praise.
“You’re what this show is all about. You have got the voice, the attitude, the charm. You’re a small boy with a great voice and a great, great future.”
Dannii Minogue added to the chorus of praise: “You have definitely got the best voice on the stage tonight.”
The final was also graced by the presence of Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who sang Drive My Car and his Bond theme hit with Wings, Live and Let Die.
After his blistering performance, Simon Cowell told the 67-year-old music veteran: “On behalf of us all, Sir Paul, can I tell you that you’re through to the next round.”
For 25-year-old Olly there was a clear reminder that losing in the X Factor doesn’t preclude winning in the charts.
Last night’s final featured a slick and energetic performance by last year’s winner Alexandra Burke and runners-up JLS, who have scored two number one singles.
Joe seemed to have heeded Alexandra’s advice on what the winner should and shouldn’t do on the results show. “Just don’t cry,” she said.
His victory was a predictable result to a sometimes unpredictable series, in which a pair of tuneless identical twins from Co Dublin regularly stole the show, despite harbouring little or no musical talent. John and Edward Grimes joined the series’ other finalists in a performance of Take That’s Never Forget last night. Certainly viewers are unlikely to forget them.
This was the first X Factor final to be split over two weekend nights; normally the winner is known late on Saturday evening.
It remains to be seen whether the format was a ratings success, with the programme being up against the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.