Congratulations to 2011 Dancing With The Stars winner Manu Feildel and his partner Alana Patience.

The couple received a perfect 30 points for their last dance – a freestyle (“When you dance, you entertain,” from Judge Helen Ritchie). It placed the couple on 85 overall for the night, sliding just ahead of finalist Hayley Bracken & partner Aric Yegudkin on 82 points – Hayley and Aric had also scored 30 from an earlier dance in the evening. His win has raised significant money for his chosen charity Camp Quality.

Short-odds favourite Damien Leith & partner Melaine Hooper was voted out from the final 3 early in the evening, however host Dan MacPerson was still able to plug his upcoming tour. Channel 7 also took the opportuity to promote Manu’s new reality dating show Dinner Date (umm… no). Damien took his surprise exit with aplomb, offering: “It was an incredible experience, from start to end.” The entire cast of this season’s show returned for each to perform a dance all adding to a fun show, which included a special performance of the final 3 stars and their dance partner/teachers.

It’s been an incredible return to form for the DWTS franchise, which many proclaimed to be dead at the end of 2010. Casting that caused quite a stir (the inclusion of current “what the?!” girl Brynne Edelsten) helped ensure solid ratings averaging above 1.45m every episode. It had controversy (Hayley & Lara), the standard contestant with an advantage ahead of the others (Hayley used to be a professional dancer), and the expected inclusion of Channel 7 personalities.

The show finished on a 3 hour high, even if delayed by the Carbon Tax statements from Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. It does beg the questions – if this season many thought the show scraped the barrel for “stars”… what are they gonna do in 2012?