STACEY Dooley has waltzed her way to the Strictly Come Dancing crown.

The Brighton-based journalist and her dance-partner Kevin Clifton lifted the BBC show’s Glitterball trophy after winning the public vote.

Amid jubilant scenes she praised Kevin, who had been in the final several times but never won.

The Argus:

She said: "It's no coincidence he has been in the final so many times.

"I have had the most incredible time.

"When you do something like this it's daunting and you feel like a bit of an idiot, but Kevin just walks you through it."

The 31-year-old was the bookies’ favourite coming into the evening, and saw off competition from singer Faye Tozer, former-Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts and Youtuber Joe Sugg to take the title.

The Argus:

Each finalist was tasked with performing their favourite dance from the series, repeating a routine that the judges would like to see again and a showdance.

For the final, the winner was decided by the public vote alone, unlike in previous weeks where dancers’ fate was decided by a combination of votes and the judges’ scores.

But, the judges still scored each dance to provide a guideline to viewers.

Stacey started with her fun-filled week four foxtrot to Hi Ho Silver Lining, made famous by Jeff Beck, which was chosen for her by the four judges.

The Argus:

When she first performed the routine she had scored 33 out of 40 and judge Craig Revel Horwood criticised her frame during the dance.

But, in her final performance he described the dance as “gorgeous” and Stacey scored a much improved 39.

Judges also praised her “ability to bring every character into every dance” and said her technique had “improved dramatically”.

She then moved onto her “showdance”, to Land of a Thousand Dances, originally by Wilson Pickett.

Stacey said this dance had been designed to tell her Strictly story, showing how she prepared for the final.

The Argus:

The duo put on an energy-filled performance with a plethora of props, leaving them panting on the dancefloor, but they failed to take one of the judges’ breath away.

Craig said the dance was a “crowd pleaser” but, for him, “it didn’t work”.

Fellow-judge Darcey Bussell disagreed, describing it as a “whirlwind of Stacey’s best bits”, and the couple scored 36.

Stacey finished with her favourite dance from the competition, a paso doble performed to Malaguena by Brian Setzer in week 10.

She joked that she had made the dance into a "paso Dooley".

Afterwards, she received a standing ovation from the crowd including several family members and all the dancers who have participated in this year’s series, including love rat Brighton comedian Seann Walsh.  

The pair scored a near-perfect 39, and head judge Shirley Ballas said: “You have brought so much joy to so many people.”

Talking to host Claudia Winkleman, Stacey said: “Whatever happens, Strictly has been a complete dream.

“We did it, we made the final.”

The four finalists have been competing for 14 weeks and in this time they have put hours of hard work in at the studio learning new and increasingly difficult routines each week.

The Argus:

Stacey said that she has enjoyed having something lighter to talk about with people, far removed from her work on BBC3 documentary series Stacey Dooley Investigates, which includes episodes called Shot by my Neighbour and Canada’s Lost Girls.

She said: “"What it's bought for me personally is you're able to have conversations with the general public about lighter celebratory things. Work is so intense, it can be harrowing and it's very serious, it has to be.

"So for me it's just been people stopping me in Sainsbury's saying, 'I loved your samba when you had feathers coming out of your body'. Or they'll say, 'Oh I danced to that song at me wedding'. They're so invested."

The TV presenter also said that her passion for dance would continue after the show had ended.

Stacey said: "I really didn't realise I'd love it this much. Sometimes Kev walks in to make the tea and I'm watching ballroom dancing on my phone, or Shirley Ballas dancing in the '80s. She was amazing. It's just crazy."