Bill Bailey crowned Strictly Come Dancing 2020 winner

Comedian Bill Bailey pipped his fellow contestants to win this year's Strictly Come Dancing, becoming the oldest celebrity to lift the glitterball trophy.

Bailey beat EastEnders' Maisie Smith and singer HRVY at the end of Saturday's grand final.

Bailey, 55, described his victory as “surreal”.

"But I have had the most extraordinary teacher and the most extraordinary dancer," he added, paying tribute to Mabuse.

For his professional dance partner, Oti Mabuse, it was the second consecutive year she has coached the winner.

The show was the most watched across all channels, with a 53.3% audience share and an average of 11.6 million viewers.

"Someone who believed in me right from the beginning, and she found something in me and turned me into this, into a dancer."

In response Mabuse told him: "I think you are amazing, remarkable. You just put your heart and soul into everything. Thank you for being a friend, a father figure to me, a brother, and for this [the glitterball trophy]!"

Mabuse, who has danced on Strictly since 2015, also won last year's series with Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher.

Bailey is known for his appearances on QI, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and the Channel 4 sitcom Black Books.

Made in Chelsea's Jamie Laing also made it to this year's final, having survived an unprecedented four dance-offs throughout the series.

Bailey had described his dance skills as “patchy” when he first signed up against younger rivals.

Bill gradually improved as the weeks went on, with his routine to Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang (who later praised his performance) proving a turning point. Viewers realised he was focused and really putting in the hours to learn complex routines.

Bailey became a firm fan favourite after his and Oti's dance to Rapper's Delight by The Sugarhill Gang, which went viral earlier in the series.

Kate Phillips, acting controller of BBC One, said: “Strictly has provided much needed sparkle to our weekends this autumn, and last night’s final brought pure joy to more than 13 million viewers all over the UK as Bill and Oti lifted the Glitterball.”

The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, praised the BBC for bringing the nation together. “Great reminder of the unique role TV and especially (the) BBC can play in lifting the nation through difficult times,” he wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Bailey said he hoped his example would inspire men. “I think a lot of blokes of my vintage do feel self-conscious on the dancefloor,” he said in an interview on ITV’s Lorraine presented by his fellow contestant Ranvir Singh.

“We are always aware of that term ‘dad dancers’ and that makes people feel a bit nervous and, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be that guy shuffling around at the end of the night’. My hope is that me having this success will mean more men of my age might consider taking up a dance class, or maybe just getting fitter, or whatever.”

Dance schools said they had already seen an effect and expect that to accelerate when they are allowed to reopen properly.