Matt Terry
Matt Terry won the X Factor 2016, beating the favourite Saara Aalto. He thanked his mentor, and the voting public, adding that it was "all for my family". ITV/The X Factor

Matt Terry is the winner of The X Factor 2016. The 23-year-old from Bromley came back from the brink of defeat to snatch the crown from favourite Saara Aalto.

In a four-month journey he impressed the judges with his distinctive voice, beating 4,000 other hopefuls to share the stage with Nicole and Kylie and win his place in the final, and finally overcoming the odds to go on to win the coveted title.

As host Dermot O'Leary announced his name, he broke down in tears, before returning to the stage to perform the winner's single, When Christmas Comes Around, penned by Ed Sheeran.

Still overwhelmed, he thanked his mentor, Nicole and the voting public, adding that it was "all for my family".

As gracious as ever in the face of unexpected defeat, Saara Alto said: "I've been thinking about this day a lot. About a year ago, I thought I'd quit because I didn't find my place. But I found my place here. I feel so loved and I want to love you back.

"Thank you. This has been an amazing journey for me. I'm so happy for Matt. I love you."

The quirky singer, who once described herself as a singing snow queen, initially had a frosty reception, failing to connect with the audience. However, she soon won over the British public with her astounding vocal range and her eclectic performances from the madcap to the mesmerising.

Her performance of Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet! was a turning point for her in the competition, and the first time she appeared to win the public's affections. It was only fitting that she would perform the song again as she made her ultimately unsuccessful bid for the crown.

Explaining why the song and the performance meant so much to her she explained: "I've always known I've had this quirky side to me, but I've never been able to show it. [Singing it] I felt like I was home. After being in the bottom two I felt like I was being myself. It was a great lesson for me to learn – to always be yourself."

Mentor Sharon Osbourne thanked Nicole Scherzinger for selecting Saara as her wild card and keeping her in the competition, telling Saara: "I admire you as a person and as a performer."

"You fill that entire stage with your effervescent energy. It was explosive," said Nicole, happily taking the credit for a new singing sensation in the making.

Simon Cowell added: "On one of the most important nights of your life, you come back with the song of the series and one of the most bonkers performances we've ever had. But you don't take yourself too seriously . You are an entertainer. Tonight's performance was off the charts."

Summing Saara up succinctly, Louis Walsh said simply: "You always excite me. You're never predictable. You can sing any kind of music. You have the X Factor."

After the previous day's spectacular Queen duet with Adam Lambert, Saara seemed to have sealed the deal with her incredible vocals spiralling through Wembley Arena. 5 After Midnight were sent home, leaving Terry to join her in the final.

But the bartender from Bromley wasn't going to go without a fight. Recreating his performance of Sam Smith's Writings on the Wall, he displayed his trademark falsetto once more. "No matter what happens tonight you are going to get a recording career and you deserve it," said Louis.

"Every time you sing, you touch my heart. Congratulations from me," added Sharon.

Simon noted: "From the duet last night and to this you are having a really strong time. It's like you suddenly evolved. You've got a strong competitor and that's what makes it fun."

The greatest praise came from Terry's mentor, Nicole, who was reduced to tears as she spoke of her affection for the former barman.

"I just want to thank you because when I watched you up there right now I realised that you are the reason why I was meant to come back to X Factor. What you have you were born with it. Thank you for sharing your whole heart with us."

The series has been criticised for the lack of international star appearances, drawing mostly on homegrown talents, some of whom originally found fame on the TV talent show. With last year's winner, Louisa Johnson, performing on 10 December and Louis Tomlinson making an emotional return the next night for his debut solo song, it was left to pop princess Kylie to bring a touch of glamour to the proceedings as she kicked off the final with the rousing track Everybody's Free.

The world's biggest girl band, X Factor alumni Little Mix, said they hoped the winner would go on to emulate their success. "X Factor is a massive platform. You've just got to work really hard. Go for it," said Perrie Edwards. Singer Suggs from the veteran British band Madness, who are celebrating four decades in the music industry, told the finalists to "just keep going".

With Saara hailed as the better singer, the final result proved controversial, with many viewers turning to Twitter to suggest that racism and homophobia were a factor in the final vote (Saara's female fiancée appeared on screen for the first time during the final).

Echoing the sentiments of thousands of people who turned to Twitter to express their disappointment, one viewer wrote: "British people can't vote for anything right." "This is worse than Brexit," said another.

But in the end it was Matt's night. With his soul-stirring performance of One Day I'll Fly Away he defied the odds and the critics to win the competition. His post-X Factor journey begins now.