Television presenter Caroline Flack and partner Pasha Kovalev have been voted winners of Strictly Come Dancing. Pop stars Frankie Bridge and Simon Webbe were runners-up in the ballroom contest, while TV host Mark Wright was eliminated at an earlier stage.

Flack was also the judges’ favourite with three perfect scores of 40, a first for a Strictly final. After lifting the glitterball trophy, she said that it was ‘the best experience of my whole life’. Flack added after her victory: ‘I still can’t believe it’s happening. It doesn’t feel real in any way.’

Her professional dance partner Kovalev said of their journey: ‘I think we became real friends and I hope we will stay real friends. I could not imagine a better partner.’ All four competitors had the chance to perform their freestyle ‘showstopping’ dance, with Flack and Kovalev’s ambitious and theatrical routine winning high praise from the judging panel. They also excelled in a Cha Cha Cha routine reprised from an earlier performance in the series, and chose to repeat a cheeky Turkish-themed Charleston which won them top marks.

Singer Simon Webbe and partner Kristina Rihanoff also gained high scores for both their initial performances, and were awarded a perfect 40 for their Argentine Tango. All four couples performed a routine from the early stage of the competition picked by judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Darcey Bussell and Craig Revel Horwood in the first part of the live final.

Each couple were able improve the scores of routines first showcased in the initial weeks of the contest. At the beginning of Saturday’s second show, former The Only Way is Essex star Wright was announced as the contestant with the fewest viewer votes. He was also the least highly-regarded by the judges, scoring 35 for both of his performances. On leaving the show, he said that Strictly Come Dancing was ‘the best thing that anyone can ever do’.

‘I’m never going to forget it, ever,’ he added. Flack, who has spin-off shows for The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here! was consistently a high scorer throughout the series, but was faced with one elimination dance-off but survived. She also hit the headlines for reportedly being romantically attached to One Direction singer Harry Styles. Despite losing out on the title, pop star Frankie Bridge’s professional dance partner Kevin Clifton said that he was ‘insanely proud’ of her achievements.