Entertainment & Arts

Strictly beats The X Factor in first ratings clash of 2017

Aston Merrygold dancing Image copyright PA
Image caption Former JLS singer Aston Merrygold impressed the judges in the first live episode of this year's Strictly Come Dancing

The first live episode of this year's Strictly Come Dancing beat ITV rival The X Factor in the TV ratings battle.

An average audience of 9.3m watched on BBC One on Saturday night as 15 new celebrities hit the dance floor.

That compared with an average of 4.8m for The X Factor, which overlapped with Strictly for 45 minutes.

The X Factor's audience fell by 1.5m on last week. This series' launch show had the lowest opening viewership - about six million - since 2004.

The figures for both shows will rise once those watching them on catch-up services are added.

Celebrities including Debbie McGee, The Reverend Richard Coles and actor Gemma Atkinson performed their first routines during a bumper two-and-a-half hour episode of Strictly.

Also taking part was Alexandra Burke, who won The X Factor herself in 2008.

The audience peaked at 10.2m, making it the most watched programme of the day.

Former JLS singer Aston Merrygold topped the leader board after Saturday's programme, performing a jazzy foxtrot with partner Janette Manrara.

Comedian Brian Conley and TV presenter Ruth Langsford wound up joint last.

On The X Factor, 16-year-old Rai-Elle Williams from Croydon, south London, impressed judges Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne.

Cowell compared her to a "canary who bites your hand off".

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