Belfast Telegraph

Joe McFadden becomes oldest ever Strictly champion after win with Katya Jones

They were named champions of the most-watched Strictly series in its 14-year history.

Holby City star Joe McFadden has been crowned winner of Strictly Come Dancing at age 42 – the oldest champion in the show’s history.

The first Scot to take the glitterball trophy, McFadden was outscored during Saturday night’s final in the judges’ vote by singer Alexandra Burke but came top of the public vote.

He and professional partner Katya Jones were held aloft by the show’s dancers and celebrities as they were named champions of the most-watched Strictly series in its 14-year history.

Their three performances on Saturday night – a charleston, a showdance and a Viennese waltz – scored a combined 118 points while Burke and partner Gorka Marquez collected 119 from the judges.

However, with the panel’s points only counting for guidance, the public voted McFadden as the show’s third male winner in a row.

The bookies’ favourite to win ahead of the final, McFadden labelled it “completely surreal” as he hugged an emotional Jones.

Burke had dominated the night, scoring two perfect 40s and a 39 for her three performances with Gorka Marquez as she attempted to become the first person to win X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

Also performing in the final were radio presenter and wife of the late Paul Daniels, Debbie McGee, and actress Gemma Atkinson.

Asked if he had expected to be crowned champion, McFadden said: “Not in a million years, it feels completely surreal and I’m so in awe of like everyone who started all of those weeks ago, we’ve become such a tight unit and I love them all to bits.”

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Joe McFadden (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

He called Jones an “amazing woman”, adding “thank you for sticking with me and persevering and being the most amazing artist, and dancer, and counsellor and slave driver”.

McFadden is the oldest winner since the series started in 2004 and had been the solo male celebrity left in the competition in recent weeks after EastEnders actor Davood Ghadami exited in week 11.

His character in Holby City, Raf di Lucca, was killed off during McFadden’s run on Strictly as the actor revealed he wanted to return to his theatre roots.

The victory led to messages of congratulations from fellow celebrities as well as a number of politicians, led by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“Brilliant! Well done to the lovely @mrjoemcfadden – well deserved @bbcstrictly champion,” she wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Theresa May sent congratulations to McFadden and offered commiserations to her constituent McGee while Ed Balls, who danced on the show with Jones during her first year on the show, paid tribute to his former partner.

The ex-Labour MP and shadow chancellor wrote: “I said last year that @Mrs_katjones is a genius and would go on to be a Knock-Out Strictly Superstar – And here we are!

“Huge congratulations to Katya and the brilliant @mrjoemcfadden – such worthy @bbcstrictly Champions! I’m so pleased for Joe and so so proud of Katya.”

Last year’s Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba also congratulated the winning couple, tweeting: “Congratulations @mrjoemcfadden and @Mrs_katjones STRICTLY CHAMPIONS!!!!!! ??so happy for you two, it’s ALL YOURS!!! What an amazing final @bbcstrictly”.

This year’s series of Strictly is officially the most popular in the programme’s 14 years on screen.

Up until Saturday night’s final, it had attracted an average 11 million viewers every weekend in 2017, beating by a whisker last year’s all-time high of 10.9 million.

Prior to McFadden, the oldest Strictly winner was presenter Chris Hollins who triumphed in 2009 aged 39.

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