Resort stages weekend of entertainment gold

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani in the Tower Ballroom
Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani in the Tower Ballroom
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Strictly stunning! That was the verdict after a weekend of entertainment gold in Blackpool.

The Tower Ballroom hosted one of the most fiercely contested finals of Strictly Come Dancing ever while West End star Alfie Boe brought the house down as he played a sell out homecoming show at the Opera House.

Alfie Boe at Blackpool's Opera House

Alfie Boe at Blackpool's Opera House

McFly drummer Harry Judd and his partner Aliona Vilani clinched the prestigious glitterball trophy beating off competition from Chelsee Healey and Jason Donovan in the live final of the hit BBC show watched by a TV audience of millions.

Afterwards Harry thanked Blackpool for bringing him good luck.

He told The Gazette: “Blackpool was already a special place for me because I have been here with McFly and now I have danced here, and Blackpool has brought me good fortune so thanks to everyone .

“Imagine the best night so far on Strictly, and double it and times it by 10!

“It’s absolutely incredible and what an honour to be able to dance here.”

Harry admitted stepping out onto the world famous Tower Ballroom dancefloor was nerve-wracking.

He said: “It has made it more special but it definitely added to the pressure. There is so much history here and it is such an incredible building and you can see why it is such a special place.

“I know how special it was for Aliona to dance here too, and dance in a final and win.”

At the Opera House, Fleetwood singing sensation Alfie Boe was clearly moved by the crowd’s reaction.

After singing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables and the title song of his tour, he said: “I’ve been on tour, I’ve been to the Royal Albert Hall. But this is where my heart lay.”

Tourism chiefs hope the nationwide publicity from Strictly will be a boost to Blackpool – and would like to see the whole series come from the resort.

Managing director of Marketing Blackpool Natalie Wyatt said: “What is really lovely about the show is that you can see that is what the ballroom is made for – competition and a live show.

“It is used for that year round, but I think we need to be promoting it even more.

“Hosting a show like this brings the whole place to life, and it was great the audience, who had come from all over the country, were able to see all the work that has been done on The Tower such as the new entrances. The TV audience of 12 million is fantastic publicity for Blackpool and the whole Fylde coast.

“Let’s hope we can get the show back next year. It would be great if we could have the whole series from Blackpool and the marketing company hopes to get involved in these discussion.”

Hundreds also gathered for Blackpool’s Winter Ball at the Winter Gardens Spanish Room where DJs and bands performed.

Blackpool Council deputy leader Coun Fred Jackson said it was the kind of publicity “money could not buy.”

He added: “This has been a great advert for the town and I think it was an exceptionally good night for Blackpool.

“It shows that in Blackpool we have got something to be really proud of with the iconic buildings we have.”

Blackpool Tower manager Kate Shane said: “It was quite emotional to see how brilliant the ballroom looked and the feedback we have had from both the celebrities and the BBC is they were very pleased with the way everything ran.

“One of the highlights for me was seeing the reaction from the celebrities when they walked into the ballroom for the first time and saw how opulent it is.

“It looks promising that they will be back next year.”

Russell Grant, one of the firm favourites from the series, described the Tower Ballroom as “the palace of dance in Blackpool - the capital of showbusiness”.

Sir Bruce Forsyth was also full of praise as the curtain came down on the final show.

He said: “It has been a tremendous night and a fitting finale to what has been an amazing series.”

The main show drew an average 12.2 million viewers while the later results show was seen by 11.8 million.

The figures were down slightly on the previous record-breaking year, when around 13 million viewed both shows.