The 55-year-old shared his triumph with partner Oti Mabuse, the first Strictly dancer to win for two years in a row.
Bailey beat EastEnders’ Maisie Smith and singer HRVY at the end of Saturday’s grand final.
“It feel surreal, it feels extraordinary, it feels wonderful,” Bailey said as he was named the winner.
“I never thought we’d get this far, never thought we’d get to the final.
“But I have had the most extraordinary teacher and the most extraordinary dancer,” he added, paying tribute to Mabuse. “Someone who believed in me right from the beginning, and she found something in me and turned me into this, into a dancer.”
In response Mabuse told him: “I think you are amazing, remarkable. You just put your heart and soul into everything. Thank you for being a friend, a father figure to me, a brother, and for this [the glitterball trophy]!”
In an interview last week, Craig Revel Horwood said he “really thought Bill Bailey would be the Ann Widdecombe of this series”.
And that perfectly sums up the attitude many had towards Bill at the beginning of Strictly 2020. At his age, particularly being a comedian, he would surely fall into the novelty category; hired for entertainment value rather than serious dancing.
But Bill gradually improved as the weeks went on, with his routine to Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang (who later praised his performance) proving a turning point. Viewers realised he was focused and really putting in the hours to learn complex routines.
“It makes me smile to have confounded people’s expectations,” Bailey recently wrote in The Telegraph. “I always intended to give it my all, perhaps to offset my pantomime horse role – but what I didn’t expect was to be able to dance well, certainly not with a degree of confidence.”