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11.5m tune in for Strictly finale

More than 11 million people watched Caroline Flack as she was crowned c hampion of this year's Strictly Come Dancing - but this was a million fewer than last year.

At its peak last night, the audience hit 11.5 million as viewers tuned in to see Flack triumph to round off the 2014 series.

A BBC spokesman said the first edition of the two-part final had a peak of 11.5 million viewers and an average of 10.6 million.

Meanwhile, the results show pulled in a peak of 11.2 million viewers and an average of 10.2 million.

Last year the audience hit 12.6 million when model Abbey Clancy won the show, but back in 2010 the figure was as high as 13 million for both the main programme and the results show.

Despite being down on previous years, it dominated viewing last night.

The first programme - in which the contestants showed off their three routines - pulled in 46.4% of the TV audience at that time, and the results show achieved 42.6%.

Last year the two shows pulled in 48% and 46%.

However, Strictly is still ahead of rival The X Factor, which bowed out last week with its lowest-ever ratings for a finale as Ben Haenow had his moment of triumph.

The show had an average audience of 9.1 million viewers, 200,000 fewer than the previous low in 2005.

It was a colossal eight million down on the 2010 final when Matt Cardle's win brought in an average audience of 17.2 million.

The X Factor's audience has trailed that of Strictly throughout the year.

Meanwhile, TV presenter Flack has said she cannot lift her head "let alone the glitterball" the morning after the night she was crowned champion.

The former Xtra Factor regular, who made history in becoming the first person ever to secure three sets of perfect scores in the final of the BBC dance show, tweeted this morning that it was "the best night of my life".

Flack jumped for joy as she and her partner Pasha Kovalev lifted the coveted glitterball trophy after beating The Saturdays star Frankie Bridge and her partner Kevin Clifton, Blue singer Simon Webbe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff, and former Towie star Mark Wright and his partner Karen Hauer.

Last night, Flack took to Twitter to express thanks, tweeting: "I don't know how to say how grateful I am but ... Thank you thank you thank you ... Xxxxx"

This morning she tweeted at her fellow finalists, describing them as a "real incredible group of people whom yesterday were a complete joy to be dancing with".

She added: "And THANK YOU for supporting me and Pasha throughout the series.... What a night...I can't even lift my head let alone the glitterball :)"

Kovalev also took to Twitter to say: "Morning everyone. Thank you to everyone that voted for us - can't believe we are Strictly champions. @carolineflack1 - congratulations!"

Last night Flack, who was favourite to win, was hailed as "absolutely phenomenal".

She said winning was the "best feeling in the whole world", adding: "This has been the best experience of my whole life."

She scored 40 in each of her three dances, with famously hard to please judge Craig Revel Horwood telling her: "My heart has melted."

After performing her last dance, which was the Charleston, he told her she was "absolutely phenomenal".

Darcey Bussell described her as "the perfect naughty flapper" while Bruno Tonioli said she was his " golden sex goddess'' after her cha cha cha, adding: ''The earth was moving. I'm still basking in the afterglow.''

The couple's showdance - which featured a wind machine - was "like watching a contemporary ballet'', according to retired ballerina Bussell while Len Goodman said: ''You don't need wind machines, you've got huge fans up here.''

Kovalev said of Flack: "I could not imagine a better partner."

Flack's friend Olly Murs tweeted his excitement at at her victory, writing: "WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Yesssssss @carolineflack1 OMG!! Seriously brilliant!! Sooooo happy for you!! You deserved it"

Alesha Dixon, a former Strictly champion, tweeted: "Congratulations @carolineflack1 you smashed it! Good for you honey, lots of love xxx :)"

Keith Lemon tweeted: "Told ya you'd win @carolineflack1 well done! You wrecked it up boi! Funny that glitter ball was nearly bigger than you! Lotsa love x"

Professor Green tweeted: "Big love @carolineflack1 what an achievement xxxxxx"

Bookmakers Coral had cut Flack's odds to 1-4 but are still facing a "hefty" payout.

A Coral spokeswoman said last night: "After weeks of getting off the hook, we've finally got our fingers burnt. Caroline Flack was backed off the boards tonight and has left us facing a hefty Christmas payout."

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