STRICTLY’S Oti Mabuse has gushed over her “special adventure” with Kelvin Fletcher after admitting she was “heartbroken” before their pairing.
The pro dancer was left devastated when her original celebrity partner – Jamie Laing – was forced to withdraw from the competition before the first live show after injuring his ankle.
Former Emmerdale star Kelvin, 35, was drafted in last minute to replace Jamie, 31, and the pair have now made it all the way to tonight’s grand final.
Speaking ahead of the final show, Oti recalled how she felt at the start of the competition when her future on the series hung in the balance.
She told HOAR Online and other media: “I was devastated and literally thinking for the first time, I wont be able to do the one thing that I love in the whole world’.
“The fact that I couldnt dance, that really broke my heart. Then Kelvin came, luckily, I was so, so lucky.”
Oti, 29, has enjoyed watched the dad-of-two transform every week on the show, and step out of the shadow of playing Andy Sugden in the ITV soap for 20 years.
She recalled: “I remember the first day he came and we met and he was really quiet and shy and I thought oh my goodness what is going to happen.
“But weve had such an adventure and I think what was so special and different is every single day we were still trying to get to know each other.
“It was dance, dance, dance, ‘so how many kids do you have?’
“We really tried to get to know each other and I think because of that, he leaned on me and I had to be there as a protector, a teacher and a mentor and I took that on and it was such an honour.
“Every single week its been like that, us two and trying to do the best that we can.”
However Oti slightly put her foot in it when she told Kelvin: “I think thats the best way for the journey to start as no one knew who you were and no one knew what to expect.”
As he laughed, she explained: “I mean in this capacity, and I think people thought of Kelvin as Andy and Strictly gave him the opportunity to let everyone at home to get to know Kelvin and his family and his character.”
The Strictly Come Dancing final airs tonight, Saturday December 14 at 7.05pm on BBC One.