This year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing averaged 11m viewers per episode, making it the highest rating series yet and Saturday night saw 11.6m people tune in to watch Joe McFadden and Katya Jones crowned this year’s Strictly champions.
Having avoided the dreaded dance-off all series, Joe McFadden was a firm favourite going into the final and on Saturday he become the oldest contestant, and first Scot, ever to life the glitterball trophy, beating fellow finalists Alexandra Burke, Debbie McGee and Gemma Atkinson and their respective partners.
Of course it was a joint effort, and Joe helped Katya Jones, who joined Strictly last year (where she was partnered with Ed Balls) to her first victory. I was lucky enough to be invited along to the final on Saturday and the atmosphere live in the studio was electric as we witnessed three superb dances from all four finalists.
I really struggled to call it on the night as any of the couples deserved to lift that glitterball trophy. But of course only one couple can go all the way and shortly after Joe and Katya were crowned the winners. Here’s how their win was sinking in.
You’ve just been crowned the winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2017. How does it feel?
Joe: I can't put it into words. The whole experience has been brilliant. I felt like I'd already won just by being chosen to do Strictly, because not that many people get chosen. So getting chosen to do it felt like winning, but then this is just the cherry on the cake. It really is.
Katya: It's absolutely insane. It's only my second year and it really means a lot! I love this show because I get to learn myself, I get to teach someone and if people love that, that just means so so much, and he (Joe) is the one that got me to the final!
Did you know that you're the oldest winner?
Katya: Is that true?!
Joe: I think I heard that, yeah. The oldest was 38 wasn't he? And I'm 42, which is good. It's amazing.
Katya: Oh, I forgot that. Sorry!
Joe: Yeah, she didn't take that into account. And I'm the first Scot to win as well!
Do you think the fact Joe had no dance experience really resonated with the audience at home?
Katya: Probably, they just feel for them so much. The thing is, he has so much potential. Give me more time with him! He will become a pro! But look at the standard he got to n the final. That's just absolutely smashing.
Joe: It's so much fun. The routines have consistently been brilliant and she's such an amazing artist and dancer. Being in the training room with you (Katya) every day was such a joy. I mean, it was hard work, but it was a joy. I wouldn't have had it any other way. No one said it would be easy.
What’s next for you? Because I guess you’re unemployed now...
Joe: I am yeah! I've just finished two jobs, one after the other. It feels good to have won and I'm feeling very optimistic about the future. Things are looking up! I'm looking forward to having a really good rest over Christmas. I’m going to lie in a dark room for about a week and sleep.
Joe, did you feel any extra pressure because Katya had not make the final before?
No. She'd only done one year before but I knew that she was going to get there. It was either going to be with me or someone else and it's the first of many wins I'm sure for this girl. She's utterly amazing.
Could you see yourself in the West End?
Joe: I have no idea, it would be lovely to put all the dancing into practice. It would be a shame to let go of that.
Katya: And I'll be there to make sure it's right! (Laughs)
How does Joe McFadden compare to Ed Balls to Joe?
Katya: For me, every year is a winning year. It seems I create these moves for them that I get known for like the Gangnam move last year, the balancing move this year. I have to start thinking for next year! (Laughs)
Will you miss Katya's cruel training methods?
Joe: They weren't cruel. They were effective. The thing is, you don't have a lot of time for messing around. You have to get it right and you have a very short amount of time to do it in. I learnt very quickly that there were going to be some strict teaching methods and I absolutely responded to that.
How are you going to celebrate?
Joe: There'll be a little bit of drinking. There might be one or two whiskies consumed this evening. We've been tee-total for most of the run, so yeah, tonight is going to be a bit of a celebration for all of us. Everyone has worked so hard, every single one of the 15 and there's a lot to celebrate!
Any admirers off the back of appearing on Strictly?
Joe: I don't know! I haven't been out in the world so it's time to find out!
Apart from Katya, is there anyone else you feel you've really bonded with on the show?
Joe: All of us, you know. The four finalists were really really tight. Everyone got on. Everyone respected that we'd been through so much together and worked so hard. You do something like this and it's such an intense experience that you do just bond with everyone.
Katya: The boys were so nice with me being the only female pro in the final. It was just so nice to hear "You deserve every single bit of it." I love them all to bits and it's just amazing that we won!