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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 December, 2004, 21:31 GMT
EastEnder crowned ballroom champ
Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennett
Jill Halfpenny had been favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing
EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny has been crowned the celebrity winner of BBC talent show Strictly Come Dancing.

Along with professional partner Darren Bennett, she wowed the judges and audience with three different dances.

Halfpenny, 29, beat athlete Denise Lewis and comic Julian Clary, whose popularity rather than dancing ability secured his place in the final.

The final trio were whittled down from a starting line up of 10 couples, who included Esther Rantzen and Aled Jones.

The winner was decided by a combination of voting by professional ballroom dance judges and a public phone vote.

Halfpenny impressed the judges with her jive to Sir Elton John's I'm Still Standing, which brought the series first full marks.

Halfpenny, who stars as Kate Mitchell, in EastEnders, had been the bookmakers' favourite all week.

Julian Clary
Clary's routines were not popular with the judges
She takes over the crown from BBC News presenter Natasha Kaplinsky, who went on to co-present this series alongside Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly.

The series has once again proved a ratings success with viewing figures topping those of last year.

More than seven million votes were cast during the series, raising 850,000 for Children in Need.

A Christmas special, Strictly Come Dancing On Ice, will air later this month with former England goalkeeper David Seaman, Liberty X's Jessica Taylor and EastEnders actress Scarlett Johnson taking part.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the winners and losers coped with the results



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Guardian Unlimited One in three watches song and dance Saturday night - 16 hrs ago
Press Association X Factor loses TV ratings showdown - 26 hrs ago
Sunday People Soap Beauty Jill Is Telly Dance Queen - 30 hrs ago
Daily Mail Strictly Come Dancing: Diva Jill storms to ballroom glory - 31 hrs ago
Daily Star Jill Dances Way To Ballroom Glory - 41 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
Celebrities get their skates on
29 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Gazza out of Come Dancing special
08 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
Dance show ratings shuffle ahead
15 Nov 04 |  Entertainment


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