Ricky Whittle is the bookies’ favourite to be crowned champion of Strictly Come Dancing 2009 on Saturday – despite some stiff competition.

As of Saturday morning Ladbrokes were offering odds of 8-13 on the Hollyoaks star and partner Natalie Lowe winning the coveted Glitterball trophy – while fellow finalist Chris Hollins and partner Ola Jordan were 6-5 to take the title.

However it’s set to be a close final – and Hollins’ popularity with viewers could still tip the balance in his favour.

The BBC sports presenter – who was tipped to be eliminated in the first week of the series – has become a favourite with the public and is the only celebrity this series not to have found himself in the dreaded ‘dance-off’.

But the 38-year-old admitted he “never in a million years” expected to reach the final.

“I’ve seen it as us having lots of fun, trying to make sure I don’t make myself look like a complete wally and put in a performance we both enjoy,” he said. “Every dance we thought would be our last.

“There is no doubting that Ricky is in a class of his own,” Hollins added.

“If you speak to any of the professionals they say he’s probably the best male celebrity they’ve ever had – but it is a dance competition and it’s also a TV programme.”

Whittle, however, admitted that he did not expect the final to be easy and said that he and Hollins were “bringing different flavours to the table”.

I think it’s quite insulting for Chris that people are saying that he can’t dance,” the actor said, “he wouldn’t be here if he couldn’t.

“Chris can dance, he can entertain, he’s got great moves, he’s got great personality and he’s going to be a massive challenge.

“If I don’t bring my ‘A’ game and perform four great dances he’s walking away with this.”

The final begins at 1835 on BBC1 with the results show at 2040. Both finalists will perform four dances each in their bid for the trophy.