It’s been a vintage year for Strictly. When Bruce Forsyth announced he was stepping down from the show, much was made of the fact that the Beeb’s Saturday night ratings winner was going to be hosted by a female double act.
In the end, after Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was rushed to hospital, it ended up being a trio of female presenters, with Zoe Ball stepping in alongside Tess Daley. It proved a winning formula and the quality of dancing also proved to be a couple of notches up on previous series.
Yes, there were those with two left feet – Greg Wallace, Tim Wonnacott and the gloriously immobile Judy Murray, we are talking about you, but there have also been a higher ratio of dances which Craig Revel Horwood has been forced to describe as “fab-u-lous”.
The semi-final provided one of the shocks of the series, when Mark Wright and his partner Karen Hauer were saved by head judge Len Goodman, despite the fact he had been overly critical of their bare-footed rumba.
As a result, EastEnders star Jake Wood and partner Janette Manrara, who had been former favourites to win the series, were sent home, leaving the final wide open.
So tonight, alongside Mark Wright, presenter Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev, who received the first 40 of the series for their step-perfect salsa, will now go head to head with Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge and Blue’s Simon Webbe.
By the time the credits roll tonight, the couples will have faced a gruelling week of training, as they will have to perform up to three dances in the final, which will be split across two shows.
The first show will see them perform two dances, their favourite from the series and another chosen by the judges.
One couple will be eliminated at the start of the live second show, with the three remaining couples then performing another dance before the winner is revealed.
Take That, who appeared on The X Factor final on Saturday night, will also perform a medley of their hits during the Strictly final.
“We say it every year, but this series the dancing has been better than other year,” said Len Goodman. “It’s not just about the quality of the footwork, but the professional dancers have really pushed the celebrities with some incredibly complicated choreography.
“I don’t think any of us ever thought we would get to the stage where the dances could be this good. Any one of the four who are in the final would be a deserved winner. They have all worked incredibly hard and sitting in the judge’s chair has been a real pleasure.”
Bookmakers William Hill and Paddy Power tonight moved Flack to 11/10 favourite to win, with Bridge second at 5/2, while Coral had them at evens and 11/4 respectively.
Strictly Come Dancing, BBC1, 6.30pm