Kara Tointon wept with joy after beating the odds to become UK’s Strictly Come Dancing 2010 champion on December 18 – thanks to a string of dazzling routines.
The 27-year-old former EastEnders actress and her partner, Artem Chigvintsev, amazed the judges, earning their first 10 out of 10 of the series from Craig Revel Horwood.
One Show presenter Matt Baker and his partner, Aliona Vilani, were runners-up despite going into the final as favourites to win the BBC1 show.
After bursting into tears when the results were announced, Kara told show host Bruce Forsyth: “It’s the most special thing that I have ever achieved.”
Then turning to Artem, who she is now going out with, she said: “I want to thank this man – he’s been wonderful. I have made the most fantastic friend for life and it has been the most special experience of my life.”
But she admitted she was “a bit embarrassed” to be handed the title as Chigvintsev reassured her: “You’re amazing.”
As massive cheers erupted, Tointon focused on her dance partner saying: “I made the most fantastic friend for life.”
And she thanked runner-up Matt Baker, 31, who lost out on the coveted glitterball trophy.
Reflecting on his defeat, the Countryfile presenter and bookmakers’ favourite said: “It’s been great. They were worthy winners without a doubt.”
Tointon’s success came after the third finalist, psychologist Pamela Stephenson, went out of show earlier in the evening when she failed to notch up as many public votes as her fellow contestants.
Tointon drew standing ovations throughout the final BBC1 ballroom show.
But her Viennese Waltz to Cry Me A River perhaps drew the most applause and prompted judge Craig Revel Horwood to say: “I would kill to be able to dance like that, I thought it was amazing.”
He awarded the delighted actress a 10 out of 10.
Alesha Dixon echoed his praise, adding: “I’m quite sad that that is the last dance we are going to see you do.”
Addressing the pair, she said: “Together you are first class.”
But Bruno Tonioli went a step further to say: “You danced to a level that we hardly ever see here. Whatever happens, this was incredible.”
Tointon, from Essex, was awarded full marks by three of the four judges.
Speaking for herself and her partner, she said: “We couldn’t be happier.”
The remark came after presenter Tess Daly fuelled suggestions the pair were romantically linked, telling the audience that Chigvintsev had promised to take his partner on a “date”.