It took two and a half hours and a total of 12 dances – not including the bonus ones from the Strictly professionals and the group dance from the Class of 2022 – but in the end, there could only be one winner. And this year it was Hamza Yassin, a wildlife cameraman and CBBC’s Ranger Hamza, who lifted the glitterball.
For his professional partner, Jowita Przystał, landing a win with a total dance novice in her first year on Strictly was unexpected, and something former Strictly pro and current judge Anton Du Beke failed to achieve in the best part of two decades.
But 32-year-old Yassin impressed the judges with a combination of style, grace and rhythm across all three final dances – a tropical salsa to Ecuador by Sash!, an Afrobeats-inspired couple’s choice routine to Jerusalema by Master KG, and a dazzling showdance to Let’s Face the Music and Dance by Irving Berlin.
The routines showcased Yassin’s outstanding performance skills across Latin and ballroom, and ultimately won the hearts of the Strictly viewers to secure his win over fellow finalists Helen Skelton, Fleur East and Molly Rainford.
An emotional Yassin said: “It’s hard to describe how I feel … Jowita, you are an angel disguised as a human being.”
Przystał said he came into the show with “pigeon toes” and she was honoured to help him win.
During the last show of the series, all couples had to perform a routine chosen by the judges, their own favourite dance and finally a show dance.
After the three advisory scores were given by the judges, East and Vito Coppola were top of the leaderboard with 119 points, with Skelton and Gorka Márquez coming second on 116 points.
Rainford and Carlos Gu received a total of 115 points, and Yassin and Przystał came bottom on 113 points. But the public vote ultimately decided who lifted the coveted glitterball trophy for 2022.
In a gruelling 13-week series that experienced several scheduling changes to accommodate the World Cup, Yassin and Skelton secured enough votes from the judges and public to keep them out of the dance-off danger zone every week, whereas fellow finalists East and Rainford had to dance for survival four times.
Yassin has a break from the dancefloor for a few weeks before rehearsals begin for the Strictly Live Tour; after tonight’s win, he’ll be taking to the Strictly dancefloor as the headline act.
Ranger Hamza now has a couple of extra additions on his CV – Strictly Come Dancing’s 20th winner, and the UK’s newest national treasure.