Ryan Thomas has been named winner of Celebrity Big Brother after a controversial series that has seen walk-outs and thousands of complaints.
They were sparked by an incident between Thomas and Roxanne Pallett, in which the former Emmerdale star claimed to have been repeatedly punched.
She accused ex-Coronation Street actor Thomas of deliberately hurting her, but later admitted she got it wrong.
Thomas said he had feared he would get a call from police over the incident.
He appeared shocked and shook his head as he left the house, telling host Emma Willis he was “overwhelmed”.
‘It scared me’
Thomas was shown footage from the incident with Pallett – which Big Brother bosses had described as “almost play-fighting” – describing her reaction as “totally unexpected”.
“It was a sign of affection… there was nothing in it,” he said.
“As it unravelled, as it became bigger and bigger, then it scared me.
“We all know how something like that can stick on a man,” he added, saying: “I just wanted out.
“I felt I was going to be getting a call from the police for doing something untowards to a woman. And that’s not me.
“I was glad we had 24-hour surveillance on us, because the point was proven.”
Thomas, who starred as Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street, had been the bookies’ favourite to win the Channel 5 reality show, followed by US star Kirstie Alley. She was the runner-up.
Pallett apologised to Thomas in a number of interviews after quitting the show.
In a TV interview on the Jeremy Vine show, she said: “I massively apologise to Ryan, his friends and fans and every single person who watched that.
“[It was] an overreaction to what wasn’t a malicious act.
“I was sensitive and emotional and mistook what was playful – I apologise for it, I shouldn’t have questioned his motivation.”
More than 11,000 complaints have been made to Ofcom. Big Brother bosses pointed out that while “almost play fighting” he “punched Roxanne in the ribs”.
Thomas, who was in Coronation Street from 2000 to 2016, had previously said there was “no malice, hurt or anger” in anything he did.
His daughter and her younger cousins were pictured in #TeamThomas T-shirts ahead of the final.
In a message on his Instagram, his family said they were all behind him, telling fans: “Your support has been amazing throughout.”
Alley and Thomas shared a kiss on a sofa after it was announced that viewers had voted him as the winner.
She said it had been a “wonderful” experience – and that it had made her a “stronger and better person”.
Third place went to TV personality Dan Osborne, with the other finalists – TV’s Sally Morgan (known as Psychic Sally), Love Islander Gabby Allen and former trader Nick Leeson – earlier leaving the Big Brother house.
Of the other finalists, Allen was voted out first, followed by Morgan and then Leeson.
Leeson told Willis the experience had been tougher than his time in prison after he brought down Barings Bank, and that he was shocked to have come fourth.
“I did something really bad,” he said. “I’ve been trying to rebuild my reputation since.”
‘Time to think’
Osborne was shocked to learn none of the other contestants had nominated him during the series. He told Willis he had found it difficult not being able to speak to his children, saying he had just wanted to make his family proud.
He said he had wanted to show who he really was, after a scandal in 2015 when he was heard making threats to a former girlfriend in leaked recordings.
“It gave me a lot of time to think about how I can better everything in my life,” he added.
Thirteen people had entered the Big Brother house on 16 August for the latest instalment of the reality TV show.
While most of the former contestants attended the final, Pallett was not present. Rodrigo Alves, who was removed from the house during the series, was not there either.