Strictly Come Dancing 2021: the Grand Final – as it happened

Last modified: 09: 05 PM GMT+0

It’s the big showdown, as Rose and Giovanni and John and Johannes competed for the ultimate glittery prize. But who won this year’s Strictly?

That's IT for another year!

Well, WHAT a joy it’s been. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be at the liveblog helm for another year, and a huge thanks to everyone who’s commented, shared, or just read the blog on a Sunday morning. Even after twelve or thirteen years this little corner of the internet remains a very special place, so thank you for coming.

I’m now done with liveblogging for another year, but as usual we’ll open a blog on Christmas Day for the Strictly Christmas Special so you can have a virtual party in the comment box. You can find me on Twitter or Instagram @heidistephens, in all good bookshops or at, so feel free to swing by and say hello.

Have a brilliant Christmas however you’re celebrating, and please stay safe and happy and healthy for another year. I’ll hopefully see you all back here next September for another spin around the Strictly dancefloor, but in the meantime please remember to keeeeeep dancing! You are all sparkly legends. Hx


Right, time to crown a winner and hand over a glitterball. And the winners are...ROSE AND GIOVANNI!

Well, I think that was very much on the cards - an amazing result for Rose, and a brilliant win for Giovanni. Italy are winning everything this year, and it was definitely Giovanni’s time.

But honestly, even without AJ this was one of my favourite Strictly Grand Finals ever. Both couples should be incredibly proud of themselves, and it’s clear to see how much this journey has meant to them. I love this show so much.

Rose and Giovanni take the glitterball
Rose and Giovanni take the glitterball Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Final montage of the night, this time from the general public. We need to wrap this up so Tess can hand that dress back to Champney’s Reception.

Ooh, UK nil points Eurovision song in the montage! Light up the ROOM!

Time for a final dance from the Strictly Class of 2021. Tom’s dancing on a watermelon, and now Nadia’s reminding us that she definitely shouldn’t have been the first celeb to leave. Sara’s in a paper boat, Adam’s descending from the heavens on an Olympic ring, Gorka’s still dressed as a puppy being pursued by Katie. Could they slow this down please? I can’t keep up.

Right, Greg’s got his Samba sleeves on and still can’t dance, Ugo’s got his Moana wig back on, and Dan’s still doing Hammer Time. Rhys is bopping with Nancy, who appears to be wearing lametta legwarmers. All that remains is for Judy to twerk with Graziano, and we’re all done (Tilly’s got Covid, get well soon). WHAT a series.

Christmas Special plug! Bingo full house DRINK!


Montage time! DRINK! This is almost certainly the first of many, because we’ve still got fifteen minutes to fill.

Journey! Drink! All we need is a mention of the Christmas Special and that’s a full house.


Time for a musical interlude, courtesy of Ed Sheeran singing ‘Bad Habits’. Look, I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s pretty A List for Strictly and this song is a certified bop.

Also we’ve managed a whole series without Michael Ball, Alfie Boe or Andre Rieu and his Disney Princess Orchestra, so that’s something to celebrate.

Lovely to see Aljaz and Janette dancing together again, she’s SO bendy.

Aljaz and Janette dancing to Ed Sheeran
Aljaz and Janette dancing to Ed Sheeran Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


AJ’s heart is broken, and ours is broken for her. It must be SO hard for her to sit in the audience with Kai and know that she should be part of this. I know it’s only a gameshow, but she missed her final chance to shine. I hope she feels the love in the room.


Just when I thought I might have a chance to dry out, it’s time for a chat with AJ and Kai. HOOK ME UP TO IV FLUIDS.

The dancing is DONE!

The judges votes count for nothing this evening – it’s all down to you. Are you Team Rose or Team John? If it was down to me I’d give them both a Glitterball and declare Strictly 2021 the best ever, but alas we need to crown a winner. Let’s have a recap on tonight’s dances.

I’m going to take this opportunity to blow my nose, because I am a WRECK. I haven’t had a chance to read the comments yet but I’m going to assume you’re all blubbing along with me.

Scores: 10,10,10,10 - another full house for John and Johannes.

perfect tens from the judges
perfect tens from the judges Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Anton thought it was an explosion of a dance and John is magnificent. Craig definitely had the love, it was the first time he’s seen John come out and go BAM. Motsi is WEEPING (drink), it’s a great time to be on Strictly and that dance was for all of us. Shirley was lost in the expression of the beauty John and Johannes bring, what a way to end tonight’s dancing.

John and Johannes have swapped their blue Rumba pyjamas for white Showdance ones, which somehow makes them look like they’re taking time out from a yoga retreat in Marbella. It’s a pure Showdance medley of everything they’ve brought to Strictly this year, delivered with the kind of panache and energy we’ve come to expect from these two. Confetti cannons everywhere, and I can’t stop smiling. Loved that so much.

Johannes Radebe, John Whaite
Johannes and John with change of wardrobe. Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC


Showdance time for John and Johannes!

On It Takes Two last night John said this was a manic medley of lifts and tricks, which is exactly what we need to wrap up tonight’s dancing. Their music choice is ‘You’ve Got the Love’ by Florence and the Machine, and I have high hopes for this being a fitting finale to this year’s Strictly.

I’m blubbing. DRINK.


Scores: 10,10,10,10 - I mean, it couldn’t possibly be anything else.

Rose has melted Shirley’s heart and she entralled. It was serene, scintillating and will leave a mark on her heart forever. Anton loved watching Rose dance and feels blessed to have been able to witness it. Craig though it was just tremendous, and Motsi feels like an improved person because Rose was on the show.

I’m like Anton, I can’t even look at these two without crying. WHAT a Strictly journey.


Forget the Strictly Gazebo, Rose and Giovanni have a giant Romeo and Juliet balcony festooned with pink flowers.

I’m not really sure what to make of this – Rose and Giovanni’s connection has never given us romance vibes, and I’m really surprised they would go down the sugary sweet route for their Showdance. Don’t get me wrong, it’s gorgeous and balletic and Rose has lovely musicality. I guess I was hoping for a Showdance glitter cannon. But like Rose, it’s heartfelt and beautiful.

Rose and Giovanni
Rose and Giovanni Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC


Showdance time for Rose and Giovanni!

And finally for tonight, It’s time for their Showdance, which is to ‘The Rose’ by Bette Midler. It’s a beautiful song featuring more metaphors than you can shake a glittery stick at, but it’s not the kind of thing I’d usually associate with a Showdance. After their lyrical Couple’s Choice, I guess I’d kind of hoped for a high camp jazz hands razzle dazzle finish. But perhaps less is more?

Scores: 10,10,10,10 - a full house for John and Johannes. It’s totally even, with only one dance to go! EXCITING.

There’s a lot of love in the Strictly ballroom tonight. Worth noting that in the case of Rose and Gio and John and Johannes, I actually believe the whole ‘friends for life’ thing.


Motsi thought John smashed it - everything about it has improved. Shirley thought everything came together - John nailed it, and he really felt it. Anton thought it was stupendous, then goes full Len Goodman. Craig pretends to be annoyed by John’s little finger, but he actually thought it was brilliant. OH CRAIG.

With all this heavy emotion, what we definitely need right now is a big old filthy pirate Paso. Like the Rumba earlier, you can see how much John’s confidence has grown since Week 3 - he’s giving this both barrels and absolutely smashing it. Just brilliant.

John and Johannes
John and Johannes Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


John and Johannes are up next!

They’ve picked their Movie Week Paso, which bagged them three tens in Week 3 and set their pirate ship on course for the Grand Final. I loved it then, and I can’t wait to see them perform it again ten weeks on.

Everyone’s crying, including me. Keep rehydrating, everyone, we’re going to be HUSKS by 9pm.


Scores: 10,10,10,10 - a full house for Rose and Giovanni.

Craig loved how Rose used the floor - it was stunning. Motsi loved Rose’s ability to connect with herself and the audience and Giovanni - she is sensational. Shirley loved how Rose wore her heart on her sleeve, she did it for Strictly, for the country and the world. Okaaay. Anton thought it was just perfect, and he’s welling up. DRINK.

This hasn’t got any less beautiful with the passing of time. Still gives me goosebumps, and I’m so glad Rose and Giovanni have had the chance to dance it again. An incredibly special dance that will go down in Strictly history. Sheer joy from start to finish.

Rose and Giovanni
Rose and Giovanni Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

Time for dancing round 2!

Next up Rose and Giovanni dancing their favourite dance of the series. They’ve chosen their Couple’s Choice from Week Eight, which was one of the most special moments of this series, so it’s only right that we should all get to enjoy it again.

So much sobbing. DRINK.

The voting is open!

We’ve still got two dances to go, so you might want to hold off for a while longer. Time for the shortest recap in Strictly history.

Scores: 9,10,10,10 - another 39 for John an Johannes. Craig is NOT getting that 10 paddle out yet - DRINK.

Anton was delighted with that performance - he’s seen a lot of Rumbas over the years and that was the best he’s ever seen on Strictly. Craig thought it was classy, stylish and really brilliant. Motsi was moved by that and really appreciated it. Shirley thought it was a story and narrative of hope, and she hopes she gets to dance a Rumba with John one day.

This is still a gorgeous and intimate Rumba, and I feel like John is a lot more relaxed this time round. We’ve had two lovely Rumbas this year from John and AJ, but I think this was my favourite. Just gorgeous.

John and Johannes
John and Johannes Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA

Time for John and Johannes’ Judges’ Pick!

The judges have chosen their Week 7 Rumba, which I mostly remember for John’s missing shirt buttons and bringing me out in a menopausal hot sweat. Do I want to watch this again? Yes, obviously.

Scores: 9,10,10,10 - 39 for Rose and Giovanni. Have a drink for Craig’s 9.

Shirley though it was Strictly magic - Rose went out and smashed it. Anton thought it was charming and wonderful and her line was immaculate. Craig loved how Rose maintained her frame and the storytelling was superb. Motsi loved the timing and the character, it was a great opening to the evening.

I think this might be my favourite Motsi look ever, she looks incredible. Loving Shirley’s outfit too.

This was such a fun and charming routine back in Week 9, and it still is - a great example of Rose’s brilliant musicality and characterisation. Really enjoyed that, lovely stuff.

Rose and Giovanni
Rose and Giovanni Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


First dance tonight – Judges’ pick for Rose and Gio!

The judges have picked Rose and Giovanni’s Quickstep from Musicals Week, to ‘Love Is An Open Door’ from the movie Frozen. Mostly I remember this getting a ten from Motsi and nines from the other judges, so I’m not sure how much room there is for improvement. Would have preferred one of their upbeat Latin routines, personally, but sadly I’m not in charge of these matters.

Out come the judges! They all look very relieved that this is nearly over, am loving Motsi’s orange dress.

Out come the stars (both of them). Rose’s horrible Frozen dress is BACK.


Tess in a white Dynasty karate suit, Claudia in a sparkly silver bandage that’s falling off one shoulder. Let’s assume that’s fashion.

Has Tess got a massage booked at 7.30pm? She looks like she’s on a spa day.

Tess and Claudia
Tess and Claudia Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Time for our final opening pro dance! CGI stars and sparkles all round, to a slightly strangled version of ‘Waiting For A Star To Fall’ by Boy Meets Girl. John and Rose are having a dance on their own starry plinths, which is entirely appropriate as they’re both absolute superstars. I’m already welling up, DRINK.

John and Rose
John and Rose Photograph: Guy Levy/BBC/PA


Last chance to watch these credits! We’ll never have to see the Oti/Ugo nose boop again.

And we’re off! Time for some slo-mo reflection from Rose and John on the Strictly dancefloor. Sending much love to the poor soul who had to hastily re-edit all this since yesterday, give him/her a bonus.

It’s nearly time! Is everyone ready??? I hope you’ve all got plenty of snacks and loved ones. I’m home alone this evening (apart from a Labrador), but I had some cheese on toast earlier. I know how to live.

I’d forgotten what a great quiz The Weakest Link is. Turns out all you need to do is replace Anne Robinson’s snarky meanness with the natural charm of Romesh Ranganathan. WHO KNEW.


Strictly Come Bingo – Grand Final Special Edition!

It’s our final bingo of the year, so have a sip of something sparkly for any occurrence of the following:

  • Montages
  • Judges scoring anything other than a ten
  • Mentions of the Christmas Special
  • Crying (you, judges, contestants or their families)
  • The word ‘journey’

Can I suggest you pace yourselves? Tiny sips only, for the sake of your livers.


Heidi's Hunches - Twitter edition!

My annual non-scientific Strictly poll thinks Rose and Giovanni are going to win by a country mile this evening, but Twitter also said HRVY and Janette last year (remember them?), so Twitter isn’t always right. That said, this seems QUITE definitive. I’m not so sure, personally, but we’ll see.

Personally I really don’t mind which one of the two wins – they’re both brilliant dancers, huge Strictly trailblazers and worthy finalists. Two of my favourite Strictly couples ever.

With AJ and Kai out of the running 😭 I guess we need a new Strictly winner's poll. Who do think is going to win tonight??

— Heidi Stephens' 2nd novel can be pre-ordered now! (@heidistephens) December 18, 2021


The running order for tonight’s show is as follows: both couples will dance three routines back-to-back – the one the judges want to see again, each couple’s favourite dance of the series, and a free-for-all Showdance. I’m not entirely sure whether the Showdance is second or third, but what I can promise is that the filling in this three-tier dance sandwich will be provided by pro dances, recaps, emotional montages, musical interludes and the return of the Strictly Class of 2021.

Put on your most sparkly outfit, stock up on snacks and refreshments, then buckle in for a final spin around the Strictly dancefloor – kick off is 7.10pm, so I’ll see you then!

All of this last-minute drama means there are only two couples dancing tonight, and whilst Rose and Giovanni are odds on favourites to lift the Glitterball, I don’t think we can count John and Johannes out just yet. There’s always a risk that tonight could feel a bit lacklustre with only two couples instead of the expected three (and the usual four), so it’s down to us to give it the support and love the cast and crew deserve.

It's the Strictly Grand Final!

Evening all, and welcome to this year’s Strictly Grand Final liveblog! It’s been another up and down year in Strictly’s history, and the cast and crew must have everything crossed that we’re going to get through tonight without further mishap so they can all go home and lock their doors. But against the odds they’ve pulled off one of the best seasons in Strictly history, and for that they all deserve a commemorative glitter cannon.

Sadly AJ and Kai had to withdraw from the Grand Final yesterday after AJ suffered a torn ankle ligament in training – it’s devastating news for them both after three months of hard work, and I hope AJ recovers quickly and gets back on Kai’s dancefloor. She’s been a force of nature since that incredible Jive in Week One, arguably one of the most naturally gifted beginners we’ve ever seen on Strictly. I have no idea if AJ reads this blog but feel free to leave some love in the comment box.


Heidi Stephens

The GuardianTramp

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