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Strictly Come Dancing final: Alexandra Burke starts show

The Holby City star, 42, said triumph felt 'completely surreal' and admitted he 'neve..

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  • The Holby City star, 42, said triumph felt 'completely surreal' and admitted he 'never' thought he could win
  • He
  • The baffled actor credited Katya with getting him this far, joking that she was his 'counsellor and slave-driver'
  • He and Katya scored 39, 39 and 40 with their Charleston, Viennese waltz and dazzling showdance in the final

By Ekin Karasin For Mailonline

Published: 14:05 EST, 16 December 2017 | Updated: 16:45 EST, 16 December 2017

Joe McFadden was crowned the winner of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night, making him the oldest ever contestant to scoop the Glitterball Trophy.

The Glaswegian actor, 42, made history as he took the record from 2009 winner Chris Hollins in the action-packed final and triumphed over fellow celebrities Gemma Atkinson, Debbie McGee and Alexandra Burke.

As partner Katya Jones burst into tears, the elated Holby City star whooped in amazement and gushed: 'Oh my goodness. It's completely surreal! I can't believe we did it! Not in a million years did I think we could do it.'

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Worthy winners: Joe McFadden and his partner Katya Jones were crowned the glittering winners of Strictly Come Dancing during the tense Grand Final on Saturday night

Worthy winners: Joe McFadden and his partner Katya Jones were crowned the glittering winners of Strictly Come Dancing during the tense Grand Final on Saturday night

He continued: 'I'm so in awe of everyone who started all those weeks ago. We've become such a tight-knit group and every single one of us are winners.'

Turning to Katya, he added: 'This woman is the most amazing woman. Thank you so much for sticking with me and persevering with me and for being the most amazing dancer and counsellor and slave driver!'

The pair looked at each other in disbelief, with a sobbing Katya rendered unable to speak through her tears. She finally managed to squeal 'We did it!' and Joe responded: 'I dont know how we did it but we did it!'

They leaped into each other's arms as the judges Shirley Ballas, Darcey Bussell, Craig Revel-Hall and Bruno Tonioli smiled and gave the victors a standing ovation.

Making history: He became the oldest contestant to win the show, taking the record from Chris Hollins - who won the show in 2009Making history: He became the oldest contestant to win the show, taking the record from Chris Hollins - who won the show in 2009

Making history: He became the oldest contestant to win the show, taking the record from Chris Hollins – who won the show in 2009

Victory: Overwhelmed: As Katya burst into tears, the beaming Holby City star gushed: 'Oh my goodness. It's completely surreal! I can't believe we did it! Not in a million years did I think we could do it'Victory: Overwhelmed: As Katya burst into tears, the beaming Holby City star gushed: 'Oh my goodness. It's completely surreal! I can't believe we did it! Not in a million years did I think we could do it'

Victory: Overwhelmed: As Katya burst into tears, the beaming Holby City star gushed: 'Oh my goodness. It's completely surreal! I can't believe we did it! Not in a million years did I think we could do it'

Elated: Joe and Katya wrapped their arms around each other as they whooped in amazement Elated: Joe and Katya wrapped their arms around each other as they whooped in amazement 

Elated: Joe and Katya wrapped their arms around each other as they whooped in amazement

Kind words: He said: 'I'm so in awe of everyone who started all those weeks ago. We've become such a tight-knit group and every single one of us are winners'Kind words: He said: 'I'm so in awe of everyone who started all those weeks ago. We've become such a tight-knit group and every single one of us are winners'

Kind words: He said: 'I'm so in awe of everyone who started all those weeks ago. We've become such a tight-knit group and every single one of us are winners'

Sweet: Turning to Katya, he added: 'This woman is the most amazing woman. Thank you so much for sticking with me and persevering with me and for being the most amazing dancer and counsellor and slave driver!'Sweet: Turning to Katya, he added: 'This woman is the most amazing woman. Thank you so much for sticking with me and persevering with me and for being the most amazing dancer and counsellor and slave driver!'

Sweet: Turning to Katya, he added: 'This woman is the most amazing woman. Thank you so much for sticking with me and persevering with me and for being the most amazing dancer and counsellor and slave driver!'

Meanwhile, hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman offered their commiserations to Gemma, Debbie and Alexandra.

Smiling graciously, Debbie declared that she had 'loved every minute', while Alexandra added: 'It's been an amazing journey and I'm so happy for Joe.'

Meanwhile Alexandra Burke became emotional as she reflected on her 'tough journey' to get to the glittering Grand Final on Saturday night, after performing a dazzling jive to Tina Turner's Proud Mary.

Commiserations: Joe beat Alexandra Burke, 29, and her Spanish professional partner Gorka Marquez, 27, in the tense final Commiserations: Joe beat Alexandra Burke, 29, and her Spanish professional partner Gorka Marquez, 27, in the tense final 

Commiserations: Joe beat Alexandra Burke, 29, and her Spanish professional partner Gorka Marquez, 27, in the tense final

Thrilling final: Former magician's assistant Debbie McGee, 59, and her partner Giovanni Pernice also failed to scoop the trophy. Debbie declared that she had 'loved every minute' after her defeatThrilling final: Former magician's assistant Debbie McGee, 59, and her partner Giovanni Pernice also failed to scoop the trophy. Debbie declared that she had 'loved every minute' after her defeat

Thrilling final: Former magician's assistant Debbie McGee, 59, and her partner Giovanni Pernice also failed to scoop the trophy. Debbie declared that she had 'loved every minute' after her defeat

All over: Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson, 33, and her partner Aljaz Skorjanec also lost out on the Glitterball Trophy. After learning her fate, she offered her congratulations to Joe, while Aljaz quipped that he and Gemma would 'probably dance forever'All over: Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson, 33, and her partner Aljaz Skorjanec also lost out on the Glitterball Trophy. After learning her fate, she offered her congratulations to Joe, while Aljaz quipped that he and Gemma would 'probably dance forever'

All over: Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson, 33, and her partner Aljaz Skorjanec also lost out on the Glitterball Trophy. After learning her fate, she offered her congratulations to Joe, while Aljaz quipped that he and Gemma would 'probably dance forever'

Clutching a tissue in her hand, the 29-year-old singer welled up as she said: 'I really don't want to cry. It's been a tough journey and for it to be the last one with you [partner Gorka Marquez], I'm gutted about that.'

Holding back the tears, she added: 'It has brought so much joy to my life. I am so so happy, let's just enjoy the rest of the night.

'I really believe my family would be proud, I think my mum would be the proudest mother. To know I continued with her dream and was part of something so great, and something so magical…'

Spaniard Gorka, 27, replied: 'It has always been incredible. It's the last time I'm going to be holding her and that is making me emotional right now.'

Meanwhile the tributes poured in from her family, with her dad saying: 'You continue to be my little diamond,' while her boyfriend Josh added: 'You've done us all very proud. Good luck, I love you.'

Teary: Alexandra Burke became emotional as she reflected on her 'tough journey' to get to the glittering Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final on Saturday night, after performing a dazzling jive to Tina Turner's Proud MaryTeary: Alexandra Burke became emotional as she reflected on her 'tough journey' to get to the glittering Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final on Saturday night, after performing a dazzling jive to Tina Turner's Proud Mary

Teary: Alexandra Burke became emotional as she reflected on her 'tough journey' to get to the glittering Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final on Saturday night, after performing a dazzling jive to Tina Turner's Proud Mary

Too much: Clutching a tissue in her hand, the 29-year-old singer welled up as she said: 'I really don't want to cry. It's been a tough journey and for it to be the last one with you {partner Gorka Marquez], I'm gutted about that'Too much: Clutching a tissue in her hand, the 29-year-old singer welled up as she said: 'I really don't want to cry. It's been a tough journey and for it to be the last one with you {partner Gorka Marquez], I'm gutted about that'

Too much: Clutching a tissue in her hand, the 29-year-old singer welled up as she said: 'I really don't want to cry. It's been a tough journey and for it to be the last one with you {partner Gorka Marquez], I'm gutted about that'

Taking centre-stage: After her incredible jive, Shirley gushed: 'This is absolute pure brilliance from beginning to end. You're just always a sparkle and a bubble. You have done magnificently this season'Taking centre-stage: After her incredible jive, Shirley gushed: 'This is absolute pure brilliance from beginning to end. You're just always a sparkle and a bubble. You have done magnificently this season'

Taking centre-stage: After her incredible jive, Shirley gushed: 'This is absolute pure brilliance from beginning to end. You're just always a sparkle and a bubble. You have done magnificently this season'

After her incredible jive, Shirley gushed: 'This is absolute pure brilliance from beginning to end. You're just always a sparkle and a bubble. You have done magnificently this season.'

Bruno added: 'I'm sure this will go down in the Strictly Come Dancing hall of fame,' while Craig, clearly rendered speechless by her performance, gave her a standing ovation.'

Darcey commented: 'You are outdoing Mr Gorka! I can't believe you did that. Please just tell me when you're going to perform next because I want to be there and I want to see it.'

Meanwhile Debbie, who landed a coveted spot at the Royal Ballet School at the tender age of 16, where she trained as a professional dancer, hailed back to her ballerina roots as she transformed into a real-life fairy for her dramatic showdance.

The 59-year-old stunned with her 'ethereal' performance to One Day I'll Fly Away by Vaults and struggled to hold back the tears as she admitted the magical tune made her cry 'every time'.

A vision: Debbie McGee hailed back to her ballerina roots during the dazzling Strictly Come Dancing final on Saturday night, as she transformed into a real-life fairy for her dramatic showdanceA vision: Debbie McGee hailed back to her ballerina roots during the dazzling Strictly Come Dancing final on Saturday night, as she transformed into a real-life fairy for her dramatic showdance

A vision: Debbie McGee hailed back to her ballerina roots during the dazzling Strictly Come Dancing final on Saturday night, as she transformed into a real-life fairy for her dramatic showdance

Darcey, a trained ballerina herself, said: 'You are so perfectly petite, like this magical sparkle for Giovani, it is so endearing.

'How after that spinning lift, how did you find your balance after that? It is extraordinary work! Very, very beautiful

Shirley, struggling not to well up, added: 'It was quite emotional actually. This show dance shows your growth and how far you have come.

'In the beginning, you dared to dream and your dreams have come true. Everyone wants to take you home and watch you sparkle

Incredible: The 59-year-old stunned with her 'ethereal' performance to One Day I'll Fly Away by Vaults and struggled to hold back the tears as she admitted the magical tune made her cry 'every time'Incredible: The 59-year-old stunned with her 'ethereal' performance to One Day I'll Fly Away by Vaults and struggled to hold back the tears as she admitted the magical tune made her cry 'every time'

Incredible: The 59-year-old stunned with her 'ethereal' performance to One Day I'll Fly Away by Vaults and struggled to hold back the tears as she admitted the magical tune made her cry 'every time'

Getting back to her roots: Debbie had landed a coveted spot at the Royal Ballet School at the tender age of 16, where she trained as a professional dancerGetting back to her roots: Debbie had landed a coveted spot at the Royal Ballet School at the tender age of 16, where she trained as a professional dancer

Getting back to her roots: Debbie had landed a coveted spot at the Royal Ballet School at the tender age of 16, where she trained as a professional dancer

Speaking after their comments, Debbie looked choked up as she admitted: 'It's the music, every time I've done it I've cried and it takes over you, I was really worried that if I got too emotional I wouldn't pull it off.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Burke kicked off the dancing competition's hotly-tipped Grand Final with a showstopping American Smooth on Saturday night, to the My Fair Lady tune Wouldn't It Be Lovely.

Afterwards, the 29-year-old former X Factor winner gushed: 'It feels out of this world. I just want to do that again. And we're in the final! Yes!'

Overwhelmed: Speaking after their comments, Debbie looked choked up as she admitted: 'It's the music, every time I've done it I've cried and it takes over you, I was really worried that if I got too emotional I wouldn't pull it off'Overwhelmed: Speaking after their comments, Debbie looked choked up as she admitted: 'It's the music, every time I've done it I've cried and it takes over you, I was really worried that if I got too emotional I wouldn't pull it off'

Overwhelmed: Speaking after their comments, Debbie looked choked up as she admitted: 'It's the music, every time I've done it I've cried and it takes over you, I was really worried that if I got too emotional I wouldn't pull it off'

Baffling: Darcey, a trained ballerina herself, said: 'You are so perfectly petite, like this magical sparkle for Giovani, it is so endearing'Baffling: Darcey, a trained ballerina herself, said: 'You are so perfectly petite, like this magical sparkle for Giovani, it is so endearing'

Baffling: Darcey, a trained ballerina herself, said: 'You are so perfectly petite, like this magical sparkle for Giovani, it is so endearing'

Shirley said: 'You truly captured the essence of everything this final is about. So feminine, you brought a much softer side. It was exquisite.'

Bruno added: 'Lovelier than ever. Your greatest quality is that you give your heart and soul, you don't hold back.'

Craig deadpanned: 'I thought it was absolutely dreadful because I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it.

They scored 8s and 9s when they first performed the dance in week three, but their second performance won them a whopping score of 40.

We have lift off! Alexandra Burke kicked off the Grand Final with a showstopping American Smooth on Saturday night, to the My Fair Lady tune Wouldn't It Be LovelyWe have lift off! Alexandra Burke kicked off the Grand Final with a showstopping American Smooth on Saturday night, to the My Fair Lady tune Wouldn't It Be Lovely

We have lift off! Alexandra Burke kicked off the Grand Final with a showstopping American Smooth on Saturday night, to the My Fair Lady tune Wouldn't It Be Lovely

Elegant: Afterwards, the 29-year-old singer gushed: 'It feels out of this world. I just want to do that again. And we're in the final! Yes!Elegant: Afterwards, the 29-year-old singer gushed: 'It feels out of this world. I just want to do that again. And we're in the final! Yes!

Elegant: Afterwards, the 29-year-old singer gushed: 'It feels out of this world. I just want to do that again. And we're in the final! Yes!

Impressive: Shirley said: 'You truly captured the essence of everything this final is about. So feminine, you brought a much softer side. It was exquisite'Impressive: Shirley said: 'You truly captured the essence of everything this final is about. So feminine, you brought a much softer side. It was exquisite'

Impressive: Shirley said: 'You truly captured the essence of everything this final is about. So feminine, you brought a much softer side. It was exquisite'

Next up was Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice's salsa to Can't Take My Eyes Off You by Boys Town Gang.

Bruno said baffled: 'She's like a TARDIS. You defy all concept of physics and time. You dance like a 20-year-old.'

Darcey gushed over her 'chemistry and 'partnership' with Giovannie, saying it 'gels to perfection' – prompting the dancer to plant a kiss on Debbie's forehead.

And the gushing comments translated into a dazzling score of 39 points – leaving the duo jumping up and down with joy.

Winning them round: Craig deadpanned: 'I thought it was absolutely dreadful because I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it'Winning them round: Craig deadpanned: 'I thought it was absolutely dreadful because I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it'

Winning them round: Craig deadpanned: 'I thought it was absolutely dreadful because I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it'

Round of applause: Alexandra's relatives beamed as they watched on in the audience Round of applause: Alexandra's relatives beamed as they watched on in the audience 

Round of applause: Alexandra's relatives beamed as they watched on in the audience

Gemma and Aljaz Judges Pick dance was the Paso Doble to Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

Craig said she had 'fantastic focus, strong lines, really suits your frame', while Darcey added that she had 'drama, determination and you held the passion to the last beat'.

Placing them in third place, the partners got a final score of 36 points.

Next up was Joe and Katya, whose 'Judges Pick' dance was the Viennese Waltz to Somewhere My Love from Dr Zhivago. Darcy said: 'You rose to the challenge, improved your posture, it was one of my favourites of the series.

Shirley added: 'It was big, bold and beautiful and if I had one, you'd get an 11-paddle for that professional-standard.'

They were awarded 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 points, making them joint second with Debbie.

Sizzling: Next up was Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice's salsa to Can't Take My Eyes Off You by Boys Town GangSizzling: Next up was Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice's salsa to Can't Take My Eyes Off You by Boys Town Gang

Sizzling: Next up was Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice's salsa to Can't Take My Eyes Off You by Boys Town Gang

Can't believe it: Bruno said baffled: 'She's like a TARDIS. You defy all concept of physics and time. You dance like a 20-year-old'Can't believe it: Bruno said baffled: 'She's like a TARDIS. You defy all concept of physics and time. You dance like a 20-year-old'

Can't believe it: Bruno said baffled: 'She's like a TARDIS. You defy all concept of physics and time. You dance like a 20-year-old'

Kicking off the showdances was Alexandra and Gorka, gliding across the floor to There's No Business Like Showbusiness by Ethel Merman.

Featuring elements of elements of quickstep, American smooth and Argentine tango, the dance certainly left the judging panel impressed.

Bruno said Alexandra was the 'top of the pops' and added: 'I loved the way you wrapped it into a beautiful tribute to the movies.'

Passion: Darcey gushed over her 'chemistry and 'partnership' with Giovannie, saying it 'gels to perfection' - prompting the dancer to plant a kiss on Debbie's foreheadPassion: Darcey gushed over her 'chemistry and 'partnership' with Giovannie, saying it 'gels to perfection' - prompting the dancer to plant a kiss on Debbie's forehead

Passion: Darcey gushed over her 'chemistry and 'partnership' with Giovannie, saying it 'gels to perfection' – prompting the dancer to plant a kiss on Debbie's forehead

Nailing it: And the gushing comments translated into a dazzling score of 39 points - leaving the duo jumping up and down with joyNailing it: And the gushing comments translated into a dazzling score of 39 points - leaving the duo jumping up and down with joy

Nailing it: And the gushing comments translated into a dazzling score of 39 points – leaving the duo jumping up and down with joy

Darcey added: 'I really loved it. Great variety, I thought the energy was brilliant throughout and I loved the brilliant surprises throughout.'

They awarded the beaming couple a glittering 39, leaving a breathless Alexandra gushing 'I'm just trying to digest it!'

Meanwhile, Debbie and Giovani performed to One Day I'll Fly Away by Vaults for their dramatic showdance, with Debbie taking centre-stage in a princess-like beaded slip dress.

Darcey, a trained ballerina herself, said: 'You are so perfectly petite, like this magical sparkle for Giovani, it is so endearing.

'How after that spinning lift, how did you find your balance after that? It is extraordinary work! Very, very beautiful

Shirley, struggling not to well up, added: 'It was quite emotional actually. This show dance shows your growth and how far you have come.

'In the beginning, you dared to dream and your dreams have come true. Everyone wants to take you home and watch you sparkle

Debbie, looking emotional, said: 'It's the music, every time I've done it I've cried and it takes over you, I was really worried that if I got too emotional I wouldn't pull it off.'

Next up was Gemma and Aljaz with their raunchy Charleston-inspired number to Show Me How You Burlesque by Christina Aguilera, from the 2010 film Burlesque.

While Craig said the performance left him underwhelmed, Shirley disagreed.

Passion: Gemma and Aljaz Judges Pick dance was the Paso Doble to Viva La Vida by ColdplayPassion: Gemma and Aljaz Judges Pick dance was the Paso Doble to Viva La Vida by Coldplay

Passion: Gemma and Aljaz Judges Pick dance was the Paso Doble to Viva La Vida by Coldplay

Loving it: . Craig said she had 'fantastic focus, strong lines, really suits your frame', while Darcey added that she had 'drama, determination and you held the passion to the last beat'Loving it: . Craig said she had 'fantastic focus, strong lines, really suits your frame', while Darcey added that she had 'drama, determination and you held the passion to the last beat'

Loving it: . Craig said she had 'fantastic focus, strong lines, really suits your frame', while Darcey added that she had 'drama, determination and you held the passion to the last beat'

'I'm quite in shock!' she said. 'You have absolutely graduated from being a beginner, you looked with that fierce face, you lifted that leg. You weren't scared, you gave it one thousand per cent! I was impressed.'

Bruno purred: 'Where have you been hiding? You're a blonde bombshell! That was a quick-sexy! You were out there, erotic, sultry, and the quickstep itself was technically stunning.'

They were awarded an impressive 38 points, leaving the dancers chanting Gemma's name in amazement.

Joe and Katya's showdance was the 80s classic You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates.

Darcey called him 'dreamy Prince Joe', adding: 'You're a snappy mover, I didn't want the fariytale to end.' Shirley said: 'It was magical, magnificent, a true Prince Charming, you've made Katya's dream come true.'

Bruno concluded: 'You played to your strengths and entertained us perfectly.' And the comments translated into a commendable score of 39.

For their final dance, Debbie and Giovanni picked their week 10 Argentine tango, set to the traditional music of Por Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera.

Seductive: Next up was Joe and Katya, whose 'Judges Pick' dance was the Viennese Waltz to Somewhere My Love from Dr ZhivagoSeductive: Next up was Joe and Katya, whose 'Judges Pick' dance was the Viennese Waltz to Somewhere My Love from Dr Zhivago

Seductive: Next up was Joe and Katya, whose 'Judges Pick' dance was the Viennese Waltz to Somewhere My Love from Dr Zhivago

Sublime: Darcy said: 'You rose to the challenge, improved your posture, it was one of my favourites of the series. Shirley added: 'It was big, bold and beautiful and if I had one, you'd get an 11-paddle for that professional routine'Sublime: Darcy said: 'You rose to the challenge, improved your posture, it was one of my favourites of the series. Shirley added: 'It was big, bold and beautiful and if I had one, you'd get an 11-paddle for that professional routine'

Sublime: Darcy said: 'You rose to the challenge, improved your posture, it was one of my favourites of the series. Shirley added: 'It was big, bold and beautiful and if I had one, you'd get an 11-paddle for that professional routine'

Bruno raved: 'Sublime, you set the benchmark, it was even better than before. You've exceeded my expectations and been a source of inspiration, getting better with age, go 60-year-olds!' And the other judges agreed, awarding the former magician's assistant a dazzling 40 points.

Debbie got emotional as she discussed the death of her husband Paul Daniel. She said: 'After I lost Paul I lost a lot of confidence – what Giovanni has given me is that confidence back that I can do it on my own and I'm ok.'

Goivanni hugged her as she added: 'I will always look back on Strictly with very happy memories.' Struggling to hold back the emotion himself, Giovanni said vehemently: 'You deserve every cent of it, every cent of it.'

Overwhelmed with the comments: The actor grinned as he was awarded 39 pointsOverwhelmed with the comments: The actor grinned as he was awarded 39 points

Overwhelmed with the comments: The actor grinned as he was awarded 39 points

Meanwhile Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman put their best sartorial foot forward for the dancing competition's glittering Grand Final on Saturday night.

The blonde beauty looked showstopping in a scarlet strapless jumpsuit, while Claudia kept it chic in a romantic Bardot navy gown.

Tess ensured all eyes were on her with her striking one-piece, which featured a structured tulip-hem bodice.

Styling her glossy golden tresses in polished waves, the presenter complemented her look with a slick of scarlet lipstick.

Meanwhile, Claudia stuck to her favoured monochrome palette with her navy number, which featured an irreverent semi-sheer hemline.

The judges picked a routine from the series for the couples to dance again in the Grand Final, as well as a dazzling showdance and choose their favourite dance from the show as the third and final routine.

Work of art: Joe and Katya's last dance was to Alexander's Ragtime Band by Ella FitzgeraldWork of art: Joe and Katya's last dance was to Alexander's Ragtime Band by Ella Fitzgerald

Work of art: Joe and Katya's last dance was to Alexander's Ragtime Band by Ella Fitzgerald

Dancing to the beat of their own drum: The couple were awarded 40 points for the quirky performance, with the judges dubbing it the 'perfect way' to end the show Dancing to the beat of their own drum: The couple were awarded 40 points for the quirky performance, with the judges dubbing it the 'perfect way' to end the show 

Dancing to the beat of their own drum: The couple were awarded 40 points for the quirky performance, with the judges dubbing it the 'perfect way' to end the show

Ed Sheeran will perform in the final as he attempts to clinch the Christmas number one spot.

The singer-songwriter was revealed as a performer by the BBC hours before the show and was snapped backstage by Strictly stars including presenter Tess Daly.

She posed with Sheeran while fellow red-head Neil Jones – a pro dancer on the show – photobombed them.

Daly wrote on the Instagram post: 'Thrilled to see the BRILLIANT Ed Sheeran on tonight's Strictly Final; the most down to earth superstar you could wish to meet; what a lovely genuine guy.'

Jones also got a selfie with the singer, who he joked was a 'brother from another mother'. 'You will love his performance tonight' Jones wrote.

Taking centre-stage: Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman put their best sartorial foot forward for the dancing competition's glittering Grand Final on Saturday nightTaking centre-stage: Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman put their best sartorial foot forward for the dancing competition's glittering Grand Final on Saturday night

Taking centre-stage: Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman put their best sartorial foot forward for the dancing competition's glittering Grand Final on Saturday night

Looking good: The blonde beauty looked showstopping in a scarlet strapless jumpsuit, while Claudia kept it chic in a romantic Bardot navy gownLooking good: The blonde beauty looked showstopping in a scarlet strapless jumpsuit, while Claudia kept it chic in a romantic Bardot navy gown

Looking good: The blonde beauty looked showstopping in a scarlet strapless jumpsuit, while Claudia kept it chic in a romantic Bardot navy gown

Sheeran is on track to clinch next week's Christmas number one with a remix of his single Perfect which features US superstar Beyonce.

Meanwhile, Paralympian Jonnie Peacock warmed up for his final Strictly Come Dancing appearance by appearing to enjoy a few drinks.

The sprinter – who was knocked out with partner Oti Mabuse in week nine of the series – will return to the dance floor alongside the rest of the class of 2017 for the group dance.

Hours before the final show he posted a snap of a half-empty bottle of spiced rum alongside the words: 'The show hasn't even begun yet … its going to be a fun one!!'

Scarlet siren: Tess ensured all eyes were on her with her striking one-piece, which featured a structured tulip-hem bodiceScarlet siren: Tess ensured all eyes were on her with her striking one-piece, which featured a structured tulip-hem bodice

Scarlet siren: Tess ensured all eyes were on her with her striking one-piece, which featured a structured tulip-hem bodice

Beating the blues: Meanwhile, Claudia stuck to her favoured monochrome palette with her navy number, which featured an irreverent semi-sheer hemlineBeating the blues: Meanwhile, Claudia stuck to her favoured monochrome palette with her navy number, which featured an irreverent semi-sheer hemline

Beating the blues: Meanwhile, Claudia stuck to her favoured monochrome palette with her navy number, which featured an irreverent semi-sheer hemline

Scottish comedian Susan Calman – who was knocked out in week ten of the competition – shared a tribute to the show ahead of her own final dance.

She wrote: 'Strictly final starts soon. My last time dancing on the most amazing show on television.

'Make up, hair, wardrobe, props, floor mangers, band, production, VT teams, runners and every other person who makes the show work have made this the best experience of my life. Thank you.'

Judge Bruno Tonioli also joined in the fun, sharing a photo of him dancing naked on Twitter. He wrote: 'When I get excited!? It's going to be a HUGE show.'

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Australia

Australia resists calls for tougher climate targets

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Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has resisted pressure to set more ambitious carbon emission targets while other major nations vowed deeper reductions to tackle climate change.

Addressing a global climate summit, Mr Morrison said Australia was on a path to net zero emissions.

But he stopped short of setting a timeline, saying the country would get there “as soon as possible”.

It came as the US, Canada and Japan set new commitments for steeper cuts.

US President Joe Biden, who chaired the virtual summit, pledged to cut carbon emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. This new target essentially doubles the previous US promise.

By contrast, Australia will stick with its existing pledge of cutting carbon emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels, by 2030. That’s in line with the Paris climate agreement, though Mr Morrison said Australia was on a pathway to net zero emissions.

“Our goal is to get there as soon as we possibly can, through technology that enables and transforms our industries, not taxes that eliminate them and the jobs and livelihoods they support and create,” he told the summit.

“Future generations… will thank us not for what we have promised, but what we deliver.”

Australia is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters on a per capita basis. Mr Morrison, who has faced sustained criticism over climate policy, said action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would focus on technology.

The prime minister said Australia is deploying renewable energy 10 times faster than the global average per person, and has the highest uptake of rooftop solar panels in the world.

Mr Morrison added Australia would invest $20bn ($15.4bn; 11.1bn) “to achieve ambitious goals that will bring the cost of clean hydrogen, green steel, energy storage and carbon capture to commercial parity”.

“You can always be sure that the commitments Australia makes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are bankable.”

Australia has seen growing international pressure to step up its efforts to cut emissions and tackle global warming. The country has warmed on average by 1.4 degrees C since national records began in 1910, according to its science and weather agencies. That’s led to an increase in the number of extreme heat events, as well as increased fire danger days.

Ahead of the summit, President Biden’s team urged countries that have been slow to embrace action on climate change to raise their ambition. While many nations heeded the call, big emitters China and India also made no new commitments.

“Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” President Biden said at the summit’s opening address.

Referring to America’s new carbon-cutting pledge, President Biden added: “The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable, and the cost of inaction keeps mounting.”

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56854558

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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