Luton is sending a huge cheer to its golden girl Stacey Dooley, after the presenter waltzed home with the BBC Strictly Come Dancing glitterball trophy!
The documentary presenter, 31, was crowned the winner of series 16 on Saturday (December 15), as viewers voted her to be their celebrity champion of 2018.
Stacey took part in the show having had no previous dance experience, and despite being bottom of the leaderboard on the night, she and her professional partner, Kevin Clifton, impressed the public with their set-shifting show dance performance, highlighting how far she had come since episode one.
After the results were announced, presenter Tess Daly asked Stacey if there was anything she wanted to say to her ‘King Kev’.
In response, Stacey said: “Yes there is. I should say something quite poignant shouldn’t I? Kevin listen. You know how highly I think of you. I think you are the biggest gent. It’s absolutely no coincidence that he’s been in the final as many times as he has. You are patient, you are talented, your choreography is like second to none. I have had the most incredible time.
“And you know what as well, like it’s daunting doing something you haven’t done before. You feel silly, you feel like a bit of an idiot, but Kevin walks you through, and you so deserve this.”
It was Kevin’s fifth time in a Strictly final since he joined in series 11, so he was over the moon to finally lift the glitterball trophy!
Talking to Strictly host Claudia Winkleman about Stacey, he said: “Thank you so much not just for being so amazing and dancing so well, and getting this [the trophy], but just for being the most wonderful person to work with...and spend every day in training. You work so hard and always with a massive smile on your face. You’re so lovely and I just think the absolute world of you.”
When the results were announced, Kevin dropped to the floor, while Stacey put her head in her hands in shock, later admitting that she didn’t think she would win.
On the night, the couple performed the Foxtrot (judge’s choice), scoring 39/40, a show dance, scoring 36/40, and the Paso Doble (own choice), scoring 39/40.
Stacey competed against singer and former Pussycat Dolls band member Ashley Roberts, YouTuber Joe Sugg, and Steps band member, Faye Tozer, who is originally from neighbouring town, Dunstable.
Faye and Ashley were joint top of the leaderboard, with Joe second and Stacey third, but the public had obviously warmed to down-to-earth Luton girl Stacey, and appreciated that she had never had any previous dance training.
Fellow Lutonian, Corene Campbell, who is a judge on BBC1’s All Together Now, said: “Well done! Cos it just puts us on the map and it helps her. She’s a really nice girl. Luton girls are coming on the BBC!”
Stacey was born in Luton and went to Stopsley High School, leaving aged 16.
Her first big break was appearing on the BBC Three documentary Blood, Sweat and T-shirts at the age of 21 and she now fronts her own documentary series Stacey Dooley Investigates, exploring themes from knife crime and drug trafficking to politics, game hunting, abortion, and the sex industry.
Speaking to the Guardian this December, Stacey said: “You have to be brave and ask the questions on the tip of your tongue. Sometimes, you’re cringeing inside. But you can’t have people screaming at the screen the question you didn’t have the balls to ask.”
And of Luton?
“Some people give me a hard time and tell me to ‘speak properly’. Some don’t like my accent or the fact I’m from Luton, but we often beat middle-class, middle-aged men in the ratings,” she told the Guardian.
And the viewers certainly rated Stacey on Strictly, too.
Before the show began, the presenter told BBC cameras: “Let’s go out with a bang!” - and it’s safe to say she did.
Well done Stacey, from your Luton fans!
> What did you think of Stacey’s final performances? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org