STRICTLY Come Dancing landed its biggest audience of the series so far as it continued to stomp on The X Factor on Saturday night, with an audience two million ahead of the ITV show.
BBC1’s edition of Strictly last night drew 10.4 million viewers – half a million up on its previous high so far this year, as Denise Van Outen once more topped the leader board with her paso doble.
The X Factor on ITV1 pulled in an average of only 8.4 million –even including viewers on its +1 catch-up channel.
Once again it is a huge drop compared with the audience at this stage of the competition last year, when an average 11.1 million people watched the show.
For weeks, The X Factor has struggled to replicate the ratings it generated in previous years, although it was 600,000 viewers up on the previous Saturday.
It is the second week running in which Strictly has been two million viewers ahead of X Factor. TV presenter Fern Britton was the latest contestant to leave the dance competition.
The 55-year-old, who hosted ITV’s This Morning for ten years, described Strictly as “the best programme in the world” and accepted that her “ticket on the train has run out”.
In a highlight of Saturday’s show Britton stripped off an old cleaning uniform in front of the judges to reveal her dancing costume. After Saturday night’s judges’ scores were combined with viewer votes, Britton and her partner, Artem Chigvintsev, faced Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh and her partner Pasha Kovalev for a place in this week’s Children In Need extravaganza at Wembley Arena.
Three of the four judges chose to save Walsh, whose position in the dance-off will have shocked many viewers, meaning Britton had performed her final dance. Judge Bruno Tonioli said: “Well, with all due respect, I thought one couple was outstanding and that couple is Kimberley and Pasha.”
Another judge, Craig Revel Horwood, described the choice between the two couples as a “no-brainer”.
Britton, who is also a novelist, said: “This is the best party on the television, it’s the best programme in the world, and I’m thrilled to have been part of it.
“My ticket on the train has run out. Everyone else – good luck, good luck, good luck!
“It’s the best party,” she added. “You’ve got dancing in the drawing room, you’ve got snogging upstairs, you’ve got throwing up in the garden. It’s been fantastic. You really do live that – the throwing up mostly!”
Speaking to her dancing partner, she said: “Artem, I wouldn’t have swapped you for anything . There have been highs and lows, we’ve got to know each other pretty well, and I do adore you... and Kimberley and Pasha are fantastic.” Tonight’s results show featured a performance from Dutch classical music sensation Andre Rieu.”