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I TALK TO Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

After 13 amazing weeks of glitter, excitement and sensational dances, 15 celebrities have become four and just one will be able to lift that glitterball trophy in tonight’s Strictly final. I caught up with Alexandra and Gorka just days before the final.

Each couple will battle it out in the ballroom for the very last time as they perform three dances in a bid to impress the judges and the audience at home. Although the judges scores will be for guidance only though as the winner will be decided entirely by the viewer’s votes.

This week, I was invited along to the Strictly Final press conference at the BBC, hosted by last year’s champion Ore Oduba, to hear what the finalists have made of their Strictly journey as they look ahead to the final.

On making the final...

Alexandra: I still remember getting the call and screaming so much that I lost my voice and I remember telling myself, “I can’t wait to work so hard and give it everything.” At the time I was going through so much and then of course as soon as we started, that was a very hard time for me and this has been an amazing distraction, a blessing in disguise and something I’ve been able to focus on.

I’ve also now got the most amazing friendship with Gorka from it. It’s been absolutely out of this world and the journey for me is still going to continue. I’m trying my best this week to not think of it as the final week. I don’t want to think that I’m never going to see Gorka again. I know I will, we’ve booked it for next week.

I’m trying to focus on the joy that it brings and the happiness that it’s brought me and the happiness that Gorka has brought me, because every time we’re in that rehearsal studio, we’re in each other’s space so much, and I’ve loved it. I’ve loved every single moment of it. I wouldn’t change this journey for the world.

Gorka: I’ve been loving every day. Last year was my first year and I was out very soon and this year the whole experience has been incredible for me and it’s thanks to Alexandra. She comes every day and gives her best which makes my job so easy and enjoyable. I’ve loved it. I don’t want it to finish. She’s been the best.

On realising the potential in Alexandra...

Gorka: You have to work every week. You can be the most talented person but if you don’t work and if you don’t really want to do it, it’s very hard. All the celebrities have the patience and the love to want to be on the show.

For example, with Alexandra, week by week she learns and improves and it makes everything easier. I remember week one, we didn’t know each other. We had to get to know each other, learn what is good, what is not, and how we work. Now, without saying anything, she knows when I’m happy, when I’m not. I know when she’s happy, when she doesn’t like it.

On inspiring others...

Alexandra: I’m completely out of my comfort zone. I know that when I go out and sing with a microphone, yes I’m nervous but if I make a mistake I can just walk to the left and sing and the dancers behind me can do their thing and it’s fine.

With this, I don’t have my safety blanket of a microphone and that’s what really scared me. I didn’t know what to expect coming on this show at all. I just knew that I’d wanted to do it for so long and was so happy that I got a chance to.

For me, the feedback that I’ve got online is more about whatever you’re going through in life, you can find a good outcome. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not going to say everything’s been rosy, I’ve had ups and downs, but I’ve done something that has brought me such joy. So if I can inspire someone to do the same thing, to dance, to do what they love, in the toughest of times in their life, then that’s what I’m here for.

On the affect of negative comments...

Alexandra: Everyone is so supportive on Strictly that anything negative out there is 1%, because the positivity absolutely outshines anything that’s negative. It definitely hasn't tainted or done anything to my experience but I acknowledge that yes, there has been some trolling but the way that we deal with it is that we just get on with it really.

Sometimes it can take its toll mentally and that’s my fault for reading but you can’t help but read certain things when you’ve got the apps like Twitter and Instagram just there on your phone and the notifications pop up, but at the end of the day, there’s so much more love out there. I love the positivity because I’m such a positive person and I don’t care what I’m going through, I will find a reason to smile. That’s just the way I’ve been from a little girl. The trolls basically can just go away!

On their favourite dance by another finalist...

Alexandra: I would say Gemma’s Tango was out of this world because I saw her in such a different light. She was so fierce, so powerful and I was just standing there going “Oh my God Gemma you are insane!"

On their show dance...

Gorka: Ours is based on Hollywood and glamorous old-school movies. Just trying to bring back her favourite moments from the show and do something fun, quick, fast and a lot of tricks!

On Aston’s shock departure...

Gorka: It was a shock but at the end of the day it’s a competition. Everyone has to leave so it was the audience who didn’t vote and that’s why he got in the bottom two. At the end of the day, the judges decide who they want to save and it’s their choice and their opinions. Everything is about opinions, you can take it good or bad. Obviously it was a shock but it’s what the show is about, every week one says bye and the rest keep going.

Alexandra: I also think it was hard for the judges too because they both danced amazingly well in the dance off and having been there, we know the pressure that can give to you and you really are fighting. I know for a fact the judges must have found that decision really difficult in any given week. It was definitely a shock. I would have loved to have seen Aston do a Jive. It would have been so amazing to see that.

On what her mother would have made of her on Strictly...

Alexandra: This was my mum’s favourite show, our family’s favourite show and I think she’d be very proud. Actually, I am very sure that she would be. My mum was just the most amazing woman that gave me so much strength and she still does to this day. Everything I do is for my family so I think she would be proud.

On topping THAT X Factor final performance...

Alexandra: I’ll tell you what’s already topped it, we sing in the rehearsal room and I’m actually teaching Gorka to sing at the moment and it’s really funny. He’s got a great tone actually.

I mean that was a moment in my life that I’ll never forget. I still watch it back nine years later and still shed a tear because I still can’t believe that actually happened. Beyoncé’s my hero and she always will be but this is all about the dancing now. It ain’t about the singing. I’ve hung up my mic for the last couple of months and I’m all about the dancing shows right now.

On life after Strictly...

Alexandra: I’m going to see Debbie (McGee) and Brian (Conley) in panto, I’m going to go to Aston’s tour... I’m just looking forward to some sleep. I’m also looking forward to the fact that we will have lots of reunions, because the way that our WhatsApp group is, we are very very close and I know for a fact we will keep in touch.

Who knows what’s going to happen next? I think I just want to enjoy some family time and just take each day and each week as it comes.

Strictly Come Dancing: Grand Final airs Saturday night at 6:30pm on BBC One


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