Strictly Come Dancing saw off television rival the X Factor on Saturday night by pulling in just over a million more viewers.
Strictly’s almost two-hour show landed an average audience of 9.9 million viewers, while the ITV1 singing contest could offer up just 8.8 million – even including viewers of its catch-up channel.
It is the latest ratings woe for X Factor which has struggled to match its audience numbers for previous years. Saturday night’s programme was 400,000 down on the previous weekend’s performance, and 1.3 million down on the equivalent show last year.
Strictly’s audience peaked at 11.3 million on BBC1 on Saturday night and they saw Johnny Ball become the first celebrity to leave the show.
The X Factor’s 130-minute show managed a peak of 10.2 million, despite the publicity surrounding last week’s controversy about judge Louis Walsh taking the elimination to deadlock during the previous show.
Ball suffered the dubious honour of becoming the first to depart the Strictly dancefloor after a public telephone vote.
The former TV presenter, with his professional partner Iveta Lukosiute, was forced into a dance-off with Richard Arnold and his partner Erin Boag, which he lost.
The judges’ scores from Saturday night’s show was combined with their scores from last week, and then these overall scores were amalgamated with the results of the viewers’ votes to decide the lowest scoring two couples facing the dance-off.
Both couples then performed their routines again – Arnold and Boag did their cha cha to Love Shack by The B52s, while Ball and Lukosiute performed their foxtrot to Everything by Michael Buble.
Three of the four judges supported Arnold, meaning Ball departed the show. One of the judges, Bruno Tonioli, said the two couples’ dances were even worse the second time around.
He added: “For both couples, it wasn’t as good the second time round. Again, for content alone, for that reason I would go for Richard and Erin.”
Craig Revel Horwood said: “I would like to save, based on content alone, Richard and Erin.”
Darcey Bussell also supported the duo, saying: “For me, it is about the dance content between the two dances, and who gave me the most confidence in them [as a couple], and for me that is Richard and Erin.”
Reflecting back on the results of last night’s show, Ball said: “I think for my age I did quite, quite well. I’m so disappointed I’m leaving, I really, really am.”
On Saturday’s show, Denise Van Outen overcame whiplash to wow the judges and lead the celebrity dancers. The television presenter and actress, 38, needed medical attention after the suffered the injury on Thursday while in training for the jive.
But she did not allow her pain to show as she and partner James Jordan did not put a foot wrong in a dance judge Revel Horwood described as “fab-u-lous”.
Gaining eight points from each judge for their jive to Little Richard’s rock’n’roll classic Tutti Frutti, Van Outen shares top spot with Olympic medal-winning gymnast Louis Smith, 23, who also scored highly.
Former Big Breakfast host Van Outen said: “I couldn’t feel it [the neck] because of the adrenaline, but I think tomorrow I will be in agony.”