Entertainment & Arts

Strictly debut nudges ahead of X Factor in ratings war

Strictly Come Dancing 2013
Image caption The show is now in its 11th series

Strictly Come Dancing nudged ahead of ITV rival The X Factor in the annual Saturday night ratings war as the shows clashed for the first time this year.

The BBC One dance show, which began this weekend, drew an average audience of 8.4 million viewers.

The debut put it only narrowly ahead of the 8.3 million (including viewers of the +1 catch-up channel) who watched the hour-long edition of The X Factor.

At its peak, X Factor drew 9.5 million, just ahead of 9.4 million for Strictly.

However, the ITV talent show had a big slump in its audience compared to the launch show last week, which saw an average of 9.2 million tune in to see the return of mentor Sharon Osbourne to the judging panel.

Strictly's ratings marked an increase of 400,000 on the first show of last year.

The two shows only overlapped for 10 minutes, between 20:00 BST and 20:10 BST. The X Factor aired between 20:00 and 21:00 BST, while Strictly Come Dancing ran at the earlier time of 18:50 to 20:10 BST.

Strictly's launch saw the 15 celebrities, announced earlier this week, introduced to their professional partners.

The pairings saw Anton du Beke - whose previous partners have included Anne Widdecombe and Nancy Dell'Olio - join forces with ex-Bond girl Fiona Fullerton.

Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor is paired with Brendan Cole and broadcaster Vanessa Feltz will dance opposite regular James Jordan.

Jordan's wife Ola will mentor Hollyoaks star Ashley Taylor Dawson, while former rugby star Ben Cohen will dance with Kristina Rihanoff, best remembered as John Sergeant's valiant partner.

"Strictly is back," said Charlotte Moore, the controller of BBC One.

"A brilliant show launched the new series with Sir Bruce, Tess and the judges all on top form last night."

ITV's own celebrity dance show Stepping Out, which runs from 18:30 to 20:00, drew an average audience of 2.3 million, a considerable slump from last week's debut show, which drew 3.7 million viewers.

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