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Kara Tointon is crowned winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2010 after wowing judges with her stunning performances

By Sarah Bull

Winner: Kara Tointon and dance partner Artem Chigvintsev were tonight voted the winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2010

Kara Tointon was voted the winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2010 tonight, despite battling a wrist injury.

The 27-year-old former soap star and her partner Artem Chigvintsev wowed the judges with four incredible performances, including the American Smooth and their energetic show dance.

When she found out she and Artem had won, the former EastEnders star burst into tears before hugging Matt Baker and Aliona Vilani.

After winning the trophy, Kara said: 'It's the most special thing that I have ever achieved and thank you to this man, who has been absolutely wonderful. I'm a bit embarrassed but I've made the most fantastic friends for life.

Artem added: 'Thank you Kara, you're amazing.'

Despite falling at the final hurdle, finalist Matt said he was thrilled with the result, saying: 'It's been graet. I have absolutely thoroughly enjoyed tonight, and Kara and Artem are worthy winners. If I was at home, I would be voting for Kara as well.'

Victory: Kara and Artem are congratulated by former contestants including Scott Maslen as they hold their trophy high

Celebration: Goldie holds Artem over his head as the Russian-born dancer celebrates his win

And as well as winning the Strictly glitterball trophy, Kara also walked away with another prize - in the form of a date with Artem.

The pair have been rumoured to have been dating throughout the competition, but tonight furthered speculation after appearing more than a little touchy-feely on the programme.

Speaking about being paired with Artem, Kara struggled to control her emotions and tears as she described her relationship with the Russian-born dancer.

And, in a VT ahead of their final performance, Kara said: 'I have made a friend for life and it has been a magical experience.'

The tension mounts: Kara and Artem and Matt and Aliona wait to find out who has won the competition

Rection: Kara burst into tears as soon as she found out she and Artem had won the show

While Artem added: 'When she's laughing, I find it adorable and irresistible.'

Kara's win was all the more impressive considering she had been battling a wrist injury following a back flip during her show dance.

The actress was seen backstage after the performance struggling not to cry while holding an ice pack to the wrist, telling the camera: 'I haven't done a back flip since I was about 11 and it really hurts now.'

Thrilled: Both Kara and Artem struggled to contain their emotions as they accepted the trophy

Heading home: Matt and Aliona looked disappointed they hadn't won, but congratulated Kara and Artem on their victory

Pamela Stephenson was the first contestant to be voted off the final tonight.

The 61-year-old star, who had earlier impressed the judges with her show dance, and her partner James Jordan received the least amount of votes from the public.

After finding out she had failed to made it into the final two, Pamela turned to James and said: 'James, you have been just incredible.

'You've made it the most joyful experience I've had for a really, really long time. Your talent and your patience have made it outstanding.'

Stunning: Pamela Stephenson was the first to be voted off the show this evening

Hard to beat: The 61-year-old star lost out to Matt Baker and Kara Tointon

Pamela earlier received a standing ovation from the audience as she performed her show dance to I've Had The Time Of My Life with James, beaming as she took to the dancefloor and getting a huge round of applause from the audience.

In training, James said: 'Pamela is older than Kara and Matt put together. The show dance is the most important thing of the final.'

Represent: Pamela said she was proud to have made it this far in the competition at her 61 years of age

Trying the lift: Their show dance included some daring lifts, but also showcased Pamela's dancing skills

And Pamela added: 'I just hope that everything comes together. This is our last chance to get in the final two - it's make or break!'

Afterwards, Alesha led the judges' comments, giving them a nine and saying: 'What a brilliant song choice which sums up you and the series. You've sparkled every week - it was perfectly played for you, it suited you and it was spot on.'

Bruno, who gave the pair their only 10 for the show dance, said: 'A truly terrific uplifting tribute to a movie classic. Perfectly pitched by James, who showcased her ability. That's going to be hard to beat.'

Craig, who awarded the couple a nine, said: 'There was a big old stumble, I did notice. But you are an extremely natural dancer and so watchable, it's fantastic. '

Ready to go: Kara wore a tight, low-cut jumpsuit as she and Artem performed to I Like The Way You Move

Risky: Kara performed a backflip during the risky and daring show dance

And Len, who also gave them a nine, said: 'What you've done, a little element of waltz, salsa and foxtrot - you've used all the skills you've learned and I thought it was charming. Well done.'

After the performance, Pamela said: 'It really has been the time of my life and I'm so appreciative to the women and men who have helped me get to where I am.'

And James cheekily added: 'Nobody puts Granny in the corner!'

Tonight's finale was opened by an energetic performance from the Strictly Come Dancing professionals, who danced to Eye Of The Tiger, with the girls sporting boards featuring the names of the three finalists.

Kara and Artem, Pamela and James, and Matt and Aliona were then welcomed to the dancefloor wearing boxing gowns and gloves ahead of the competition.

Head judge Len Goodman also kept the boxing analogy going as he introduced the show with a microphone hanging from the ceiling.

Presenter Tess Daly looked stunning in a full-length white gown with a sparkly silver asymmetric top, while Bruce Forsyth wore a black tuxedo with white waistcoat.

Gymnastic genius: Matt Baker used his gymnastic skills for the show dance

Too much going on: But the judges said maybe he and Aliona Vilani had overdone the tricks in the routine

The first show of the evening saw the three finalists bring back their top-scoring dances, as well as unleashing their final show dance.

Up first were Matt and Aliona, who performed the Samba to Young Hearts Run Free ,
complete with a lot of hip movement and even some back flips from Matt, which earned him a series of cheers and applause from the audience.

Speaking about being in the final, Matt said: 'It's just such a special feeling to know that you're there - last weekend was such an emotional weekend.

'Initially I thought Strictly would be quite fluffy - a bit of glitter here and there, could it be that intense? But believe me, it can - it's just you, your partner and the floor.'

Beautiful: Pamela and James also performed the Viennese Waltz, which earned them top marks from the judges

'Simply brilliant': Pamela and James received a standing ovation from the audience, which included Pamela's husband Billy Connolly

And as well as his natural dancing talent, it is Matt's chemistry with dance partner Aliona which has seen him get through to the final.

Describing their chemistry, Matt said: 'Aliona and I realised very quickly that we have a very similar outlook - she will dance what I'm feeling.'

Aliona added: 'I have actually been on a real, real journey - it's been a blast.'

Before taking to the dancefloor, Matt said: 'To be the last man standing is brilliant - to be the last one standing would be phenomenal.'

It was then time for the judges to pass their judgement on the performance.

Festive sparkles: The judges give their scores for a performance on the show

All white on the night: Pamela and James stand with Tess as they await the judges' results

Len was first up, giving the couple a 9 and saying: 'We are expecting you to dance to the standard that has got you to this final, and that's what you did Matt. You came out, full on, and did so well - well done.'

Alesha Dixon, who awarded Matt and Aliona a 10, said: 'The last time we saw this dance was in Blackpool and you've done it again. I think it's the perfect way to open the show and I think it's the best samba of the series.'

Ever-amusing Bruno Tonioli, who also gave them a 10, said: 'There's nothing better than a hot Latin samba to cheer up everyone in a cold snap. You're samba was even better this time.'

And Craig Revel-Horwood, who gave them a 9, said: 'All good, I'm afraid. It was more confident than last time, I thought it was fantastic. That hip action is torrid, darling, it works very very well!'

Talking to Tess after the performance, Matt said: 'We wanted it to be a real celebration of everything we've done, and it feels brilliant to go out there and just dance - I'm so happy.'

Emotional: Kara struggled to control her tears as she spoke about her experience on Strictly before taking to the dancefloor to perform the Rumba

So proud: Kara described getting to the final as one of the biggest achievements of her life

Kara and Artem were up next, performing the Rumba to an instrumental number.

Before taking to the dancefloor, Kara said she couldn't believe she had made it through to the final of Strictly.

She said: 'To have made it through to the final is one of the biggest achievements of my life. I don't think I'll ever forget when Artem slid towards to me on that first show. I had hoped to be with James or Anton, but I think he's forgiven me.

'It took me a few weeks to come out and let go. The first dance I did well with was the Paso Doble. In Blackpool the emotions were running high, I'd injured my partner, and then we did the best performance we've done in the whole show.'

Lighting up the dancefloor: Matt and Aliona opened the show with their sexy Samba to Young Hearts Run Free

Sparkles: Matt said he had no idea Strictly would be as difficult as he has found it

And while Kara has been doing so well on the show, there has been much speculation about her relationship with Artem, which will now only be furthered by her emotional recounting of their time together on the show.

She said: 'The most special thing about this whole exeprience has been meeting Artem. He is so special, he's one of the....', before her tears stopped her from continuing.

She then managed to add through her crying: 'And I think lifting the glitterball with him would be amazing.

'Strictly is like some kind of life camp - you learn so much about yourself. I will look back at this experience as one of the biggest and most amazing experiences of my life, and I never thought I'd say that.'

Artem added: 'I don't think I can imagine a person who deserves to lift the glitterball more than her. You only realise something special when it's near the end, and this is definitely special!'

On-screen chemistry: Matt and Aliona get on incredibly well, which is partly the reason they dance so well together

Romance? Kara's emotional recounting of her time with Artem on Strictly will only further speculation they are a couple

Alesha led the judges' comments, giving Kara and Artem a 10, and adding: 'I started welling up before you started dancing. You have been on such an emotional journey and it's amazing. But I think you have raised the bar even more since last week.'

Bruno, also gave them a 10, and said: 'That was an amazing rumba of hypnotic beauty. It was stunning.'

Craig was the only judge to give the couple a 9, saying: 'Bruno is absolutely right. But there was an illegal lift in there - one foot should remain on the floor at all times.'

Eager to win: Matt and Aliona stand with Bruce Forsyth as they await the results from judges (left to right) Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli

Len, who gave them a 10, said: 'That routine reminds me of myself in many ways. THe more you see it, the better it gets. Well done!'

After the performance, Kara said: 'That one was easy so we only did that last week, but hopefully the others will be OK.

'A 10 from Craig would be the icing on the cake, but I'm not going to ask him for it.'

Up next were Pamela and James, who performed the Viennese Waltz to Unchained Melody.

Speaking about making it to the last show, Pamela said: 'When I found out I was through to the final, it was so exciting - it felt surreal. I didn't realise that James were so overcome, he's actually really sensitive.

'It has been the most fun experience of my whole life. I have really appreciated all of the things the judges have said, especially the comments about taking risks, because that was vital in our success.

'When I was asked to do Strictly, I was out of the limelight so it was very weird for me to come back to it.

'The world of Strictly has been a completely amazing experience. It's the best fat camp in the world!

Alll glammed up: Hosts Bruce and Tess Daly donned their finest clothes to present the final

'Strictly has ignited something in me which I really thought had been lost. I have discovered something I hope will continue for the rest of my life.'

However, James admitted he was unsure how well Pamela would do when they first met, adding: 'If I'm totally honest, I thought we would get halfway. After week one, I realised she had the potential to become something really great.'

Talking to Tess after the performance, Pamela said: 'It's so emotional for me and it's my husband's favourite dance. I'm so grateful for people that have got us here.'

Pamela and James were given the first full marks of the evening, getting 40 out of 40 - a 10 from each of the judges.

Bruno said: 'Beautiful acting, beautiful dancing, completely focused. Simply brilliant.'

Craig added: 'Simple, effective, you both play by the rules which I adore. Another remarkable performance.'

Len said: 'I think the correct 3 have got into this final. You all are here on merit. It's hard to maintain that level of dancing', while Alesha said: 'So elegant and graceful. That for me was more emotional than the last time. That was like an invitation into movie magic - it was just beautiful.'

The couples then came back with their show dance - the performance where there are no rules.

Red hot: Matt and Aliona opened up the second show of the evening with a Paso Doble

Impressive: The judges found fault with the performance, but credited Matt for being a fantastic ballroom dancer

Matt and Aliona were up first, performing to I Like The Way You Move.

Matt wore a waistcoat, trousers and a flat carp, while Aliona stuck to a sexy tie top and hotpants.

Before the performance, Matt admitted he was daunted by the fact he was required to complete so many different style of dancing.

He said: 'It's the final. You have one chance and you just want to go out there and give it everything. It could be our last ever dance.'

After the dance, Len, who gave them a 9, said: 'The thing is with show dances is that you want a routine that makes you feel good, music that inspires you and you want to come out and have fun and entertain. And I think that's what you did. There was a few too many stunts and tricks for me.'

Alesha, who also gave them a 9, said: 'I like that you put a little bit of street dancing in there, I loved the gymnastics, It was very entertaining.'

Bruno, who awarded the couple a 9, said: 'It was a gymnastic extravaganza and I can see you put a lot of work into it. It was very entertaining.'

And Craig, who gave them a 7, said: 'It was too static in places, the amalgamations didn't flow together too well, I felt like you were stopping and starting. The whole concept for me didn't entirely come together.'

Afterwards, Matt said: 'Words cant describe how much I want to win.'

Beautiful: Matt and Aliona then performed a romantic Viennese Waltz to Wild Rose

Enjoyable: After the performance, which was his last of the night, Matt said he had 'thoroughly enjoyed' it

Kara and Artem were up next, dancing to Don't Stop Me Now.

Before taking to the dancefloor, Kara, who wore a sexy, low-cut white and red catsuit for the performance, said: 'This is our last chance to impress - a lot rests on this performance. If we make it to the end move, this will be our creme de la creme of the whole competition.'

Craig was first up to pass judgement, giving them a 9, and saying: 'Sadly you missed a lift, the timing at the end was off but I've got to say how much courage you have to do a routine like that because that is difficult stuff.

Len, also awarded them a nine, and said: 'The routine did have the potential to get top marks, but the music was so hectic.'

Alesha, who also gave them a 9, said: 'I thought it was a fantastic combination of moves which showed your dance ability. And I feel like you're a true athlete after that!'

Bruno finished the judges' scores with a nine, saying: 'That's what happens when you push things to the limit. It was going beautifully but at the end you lost timing and the end stopped it being the blockbuster it could have been. But the work that you did was amazing.'

Afterwards, Kara said: 'It's going to be really weird when Strictly ends, I think I'm going to have to buy some sparkly pyjamas to watch things from home!'

At the end of the first show of the evening, the judges' leaderboard was led by Pamela and James and ended by Matt and Aliona at the bottom.

The phone lines were frozen at the beginning of the second show of the night, before opening again after Pamela was voted off.

Excited: Matt and Aliona hug as Bruce waits with them to find out the results from the judges

Matt and Aliona opened the second show of the evening with an energetic Paso Doble in sexy red and black outfits.

Afterwards, Len, who gave them 8, said: 'I liked it but I wasn't overstruck by it. I would have liked a little bit more shape through your body. It was OK but it wasn't fantastic.

Alesha, who awarded them a 9, said: 'I think this dance was made for you. It had purpose and drive. I love your determination Matt.'

Bruno, who also gave them a nine, said: 'This is the grand final and Len is right - it had the aggressive power and it was flamboyant but you lost the artistry. It didn't quite go there. Good, but not brilliant.'

Perfect: Kara and Artem performed a waltz, their first of the series, and thoroughly impressed the judges

Hold on tight: Kara and Artem hug after their almost perfect performance

But Craig, who gave them a nine, said: 'Actually, I rather liked it. I thought it was dramatic and I thought you were hitting some really fantastic lines. I think you did a great job.'

After the performance, Matt said: 'It was good fun and I really enjoyed that with Aliona. It's such a good final and I'm just happy we're still hanging on in there.'

Kara and Artem were up next performing the waltz to If You Don't Know Me By Now.

In training, Kara said how much she was going to miss her dance partner and the practising, adding: 'I'm going to really miss Artem. I'll always be eternally grateful for him making me a bit of a dancer.'

Afterwards, Alesha, who gave them a 10, said: 'A very understated performance full of romance. You are such a great example of what hard work and determination can achieve.'

Happy: Kara and Artem look emotional but relieved following their waltz

Beautiful: Alesha praised Kara for being a beautiful person, 'both inside and out'

Bruno, who also awarded the pair a 10, added: 'It's quality of movement and you can't top that. You're totally in tune with the music, it's like your body is playing the music. What more can I say.'

Craig, who gave them a nine, said: 'There were a few wobbles but you are the most amazing dancer I think I have seen in this competition.'

Len, who also gave them a nine, said: 'What's wonderful about you is that you have such musicality when you dance. It's truly wonderful to watch.'

Stunning: Kara performed the American Smooth with Artem for the last performance of the evening

Going higher: Despite struggling with an injured wrist, Kara and Artem pulled off a lift

Matt and Aliona were up next again, performing the Viennese Waltz to Wild Rose.

Afterwards, Bruno, who gave them a nine, Bruno said: 'Very dashing, very elegant, a very, very nice waltz.'

Craig, who kept it simple by just saying 'I have to agree', also awarded the couple a nine.

Len said: 'You're an excellent dancer and you're an excellent ballroom dancer', and gave them a nine.

Alesha gave the pair a 10, saying: 'A beautiful performance. You are the last man standing but you have been impressive from the very beginning. You are a true partnership and you always come back stronger.'

Time to go out? Tess with Kara and Artem as she revealed the Russian-born dancer would be taking Kara out tomorrow night

Smiles all round: Kara and Artem looked delighted with their performances during the evening

Afterwards, Matt said: 'It was a lovely way for us to round off our whole Strictly performance. Thank you so much, that was lovely.

'We've gone out and we've worked well, we can leave with our head held high whatever happens. We've had a great night and I'm so pleased for that reason.'

Kara and Artem rounded off their night with a performance of the American Smooth to Cry Me A River.

Wearing a stunning sparkly dress, Kara managed an impressive dance, despite injuring her wrist earlier in the evening.

Making a big return: All the Strictly finalists returned for a last performance to the soundtrack of Paloma Faith

After their dance, Craig said: 'I would kill to be able to dance like that. I thought it was amazing. I thought you were adorable', and gave them his first 10.

Len, who caused controversy with a seven, said: 'What's great about number is that it's so lyrical and musical. Unfortunately, you're supposed to do a certain amount in hold. But it's still a great number and I think your dancing is brilliant.'

Alesha, who gave them a 10, said: 'I'm quite sad that that's the last dance we will see you guys do. I think you are the most exquisite dancer I have seen on Strictly and together you are first class.'

And Bruno, who also gave them a 10, said: 'Whatever happens, this was an inspired performance. Creatively it was superb.'

After the performance, Kara said: 'That dance has always been my favourite so we just wanted to do it again.

'I'm just so pleased to have got through it and it's very sad to have danced our last dance together.'

Former Strictly Come Dancing 2010 contestants, including Ann Widdecombe, Felicity Kendal and Gavin Henson also returned for a special performance to the soundtrack of songstress Paloma Faith.

Rugby player Gavin Henson delighted his female fans when he showed off his famous chest, while Ann and partner Anton got one of the biggest cheers of the night when they performed one of their most famous lifts.

Despite being the only female dancer on the floor to wear trousers, Ann did stick to the theme in long sparkly trousers and a matching top.