Ellie Ferguson became the inaugural winner of BBC’s latest talent series The Greatest Dancer on Saturday night.
And the 14-year-old – who, in winning, has scooped £50k and an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing 2019 – had the pressure inadvertently turned up moments before she hit the stage to perform a duet with her dance mentor Oti Mabuse.
‘Some of the Stictly pros were in the audience, and Oti pointed them out to me just before we were going on stage to do our duet,’ she told MailOnline on Sunday morning.
SHE’S The Greatest Dancer: Ellie Ferguson – the winner of The Greatest Dance – had the pressure turned up moments before she hit the stage to perform a duet with her dance mentor Oti Mabuse on Saturday
‘I didn’t know they would be there, but she showed me where they were sitting. It was quite scary.’
Still, the Strictly stars in attendance – Neil Jones, Janette Manrara, AJ Pritchard and Aljaž Škorjanec – had nothing put praise for the young star, cheering her on from their seats and posting congratulatory messages to Instagram after the show.
Next to a snap of Neil with Ellie and Oti, the pro captioned it: ‘Wow she did it! congratulations to Ellie Ferguson as she is crowned the first winner of TGD. Next stop for her is Strictly.
‘I’m also really proud of our girl Oti Mabuse for being such a great mentor and all of her quick changes tonight. I really enjoyed tonight’s final and so did my mum, what did u think?’
Congrats! The Strictly stars in attendance included Neil Jones who had nothing put praise for the young star
Champ! Janette Manrara and Aljaž Škorjanec posed with the dancer
Girl of the moment: AJ Pritchard got his photo taken with the winner
AJ echoed this, also getting his photo taken with the winner: ‘Congratulations @ellie_fergusson on Winning @greatestdancer you were honestly my winner from day one… can’t wait to see you perform on @bbcstrictly #beautiful.’
‘After the show I met them and they gave me a big hug!’ Ellie said.
She went on to assert that she was ‘really shocked’ that she won the show, admitting that it’s been a fantastic exercise in confidence-building.
‘I 100 percent did not think I was going to win it. It’s just all been such a special experience. And the chance to be on Srictly – that’s definitely the most exciting thing about this.’
Overwhelmed: After the show I met them and they gave me a big hug!’ Ellie said
Dancing her way to the win: She went on to assert that she was ‘really shocked’ that she won the show, admitting that it’s been a fantastic exercise in confidence-building
The teenager also spoke about the attention that has come with her sudden stardom.
‘The support – like on social media – is overwhelming,’ she said. ‘And I don’t love being the centre of attention. I did this because I have a passion for dancing.’
Ellie says that she will be keeping in touch with Oti, and that she taught her to believe in herself. She also said she hopes to be asked back next year, when the show returns for it’s second season – commissioned overnight.
‘I’d definitely love to do that,’ she told us.
Starlet: ‘I 100 percent did not think I was going to win it. It’s just all been such a special experience. And the chance to be on Srictly – that’s definitely the most exciting thing about this,’ the teenager said
‘I don’t love being the centre of attention’: Ellie explained that she went on the show ‘because I have a passion for dancing’
The dancer also gave a nod to Matthew Morrison and Cheryl – the dance captains whose acts did not win.
‘They were both so lovely and Matthew gave me good advice,’ she said of the Glee actor.
Cheryl’s act Harry Smallman and Eleiyah Navis moved their mentor to tears during The Greatest Dancer finale.
The Love Made Me Do It songstress was left speechless as she cried after watching the pair dance to A Great Big World’s Say Something.
She then went on: ‘OK! First of all I want to say thank you for being amazing. For trusting me with your journey.
Tears: Cheryl’s act Harry Smallman and Eleiyah Navis moved their mentor to tears during The Greatest Dancer finale
What a winner! The Greatest Dancer viewers voted for Oti Mabuse’s performer Ellie to win the £50,000 cash prize and the opportunity to dance on BBC’s Strictly
‘I’m going to miss you terribly. Whatever you are going to do after this. Whatever the outcome of tonight.’
The pair sent chills through the audience as they put on an elegant routine, only using a table as a prop to bring them closer together.
Cheryl was also visibly touched by Ellie and Oti’s performance.
‘It was so beautiful. It was so lovely to witness the two of you using that connection and giving us that performance tonight. Thank you so much,’ she remarked after the duet.
Amazing achievement: Oti was every inch the proud trainer as she joined her winning act