Jason Donovan has finished in third place in the final of Strictly Come Dancing – leaving Harry Judd and Chelsee Healey to battle it out for the Glitterball trophy.
The former Neighbours star was eliminated following the first half of the final at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom after he and dance partner Kristina Rihanoff received the lowest number of votes from viewers.
And Jason – who had been the outsider to win the competition – got the boot despite receiving a full house from the judges for his showdance in the first part of the show.
However he remained upbeat, calling his time on the show an “incredible experience”.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the public for voting for us, we’ve come so far,” he said. “I want to thank my family, my wife and my two kids, and if I don’t I might get emotional here but they have been there the whole way through.”
He also paid tribute to his dance partner, saying, “To Kristina who has been so patient, who has remained so focused, who has one of the most amazing talents and visions to work with someone like myself, she has done me so proud and I will never ever forget her.”
Earlier in the show, Jason won praise from the judges for the two routines he had the chance to perform before he was eliminated – beginning with a reprise of his tango from earlier in the series which this time won him a score of 38 from the judges.
“It was a bit skippy,” Craig Revel Horwood told him, “but it’s a fantastic number, I loved it. It’s through determination and good old-fashioned hard work that you’ve got here.”
Len Goodman added, “You’ve survived 14 weeks of blood sweat and tears. You have 20 years on the other two yet you have given everything with so much energy.”
And he won rave reviews for his showdance, with Alesha Dixon saying, “If this was a marathon you would have won it already,” and Bruno Tonioli adding, “That was more than a showdance, that was a showbiz extravaganza!”
Jason went on to win a full house from the judges which ultimately left him at the top of their scoreboard at the end of the first half. However he still lost out as the outcome of the final is determined entirely by public votes rather than judges’ scores.
His success also provided Kristina Rihanoff with the chance to take part in the final for the first time, after failing to reach the later stages of the show with any of her previous dancing partners.