She’s done it! Gartree Prison officer Sam Bailey has triumphed in this year’s X Factor final.
The 36-year-old mum-of-two bested Scottish teenager Nicholas McDonald in tonight’s (Sunday) winner-takes-all final showdown.
Along with the plaudits, prize-money and inevitable fame that being the X Factor champion will bring, Sam will also now get to support megastar Beyonce on tour next year.
The winner’s single song will also vie for the Christmas Number 1 slot in the UK charts.
The programme got under way tonight at Wembley Arena in front of an audience of 10,000 people with Sam, Nicholas and other contestants from this year’s contest singing Katy Perry’s Roar.
Later, singing second of the two finalists, Sam belted out The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush which was the song she felt was her strongest performance of the entire series.
The judges heaped praise on Sam and gave her a standing ovation.
Gary Barlow said: “I know this is your song of the series but I’ve got to be honest, for me, you could have sung anything from this series because every single performance has been amazing.”
Nicole Scherzinger said: “You make it look too easy. You were born to do two things: to be a sch-mazing mum and to be a star on that stage. Having known you and having worked with you, you are a beacon of light and so inspiring and empowering to all the other mums out there.”
Louis Walsh said: “You are what this show is all about. Giving somebody a chance; a chance to someone who deserves it. You’ve got it all.”
Her second song of the night was her version of the winner’s single.
Again, all four of the judges credited her performance.
Gary said: “You’ve stolen the hearts of the nation...you sung that as if on behalf of all those people whose dreams have never died.”
Nicole was brought to tears. “That voice is a gift from God...this time is your time,“ she added.
Mentor Sharon was also brought to tears and was lost for words.
The result was read out just before 9.30pm before Sam gave a final rendition of the winner’s single.
To add to the showbiz glitter on the night, Gary Barlow, Katy Perry, Sir Elton John and One Direction all sang live.
Sam earned her slot in the final two after her solo version of Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory and a duet with Nicole Scherzinger impressed the British public on Saturday night who voted to push her into Sunday’s showdown. Votes that were cast last night carried forward for the final total tonight.
“It’s been a long time coming for Sam and she really, really deserves it,” said mentor Sharon Osbourne earlier in the night.
Judges Nicole and Gary both pinned their colours to Sam’s mast at the start of the show.
Story by Alex Blackwell
Follow Alex on Twitter, @BlackwellHarb.