Strictly Come Dancing launch beats X Factor ratings by 1.2m viewers

The BBC show attracted a 41.7 per cent share of Saturday night's TV audience

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The Strictly Come Dancing launch has trounced The X Factor in the Saturday night ratings battle for the second year running.

An average 8.7 million viewers tuned in to watch Peter Andre, Ainsley Harriott and Kirsty Gallacher take to the dance floor for the first time, while The X Factor pulled in 7.5 million for the third show of the new series.

Strictly attracted a 41.7 per cent of the total audience, in comparison to 32.8 per cent for Cowell’s ITV entertainment behemoth.

Cowell, who produces the ITV singing contest, said The X Factor could easily beat Strictly in the ratings war last week. “I'd hate to say yes, because I know what will happen if I say yes, it will come back and haunt me.

“This show does feel better, the talent's great, they're interesting, so if it's us versus Peter Andre, I'm going to put my money on us," he said.

Last week, an average 7.6 million watched Saturday's launch of the 12th series of The X Factor, peaking at 7.9 million, with new judges Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw making their first appearance on the judging panel.

The figures were down from the previous year, which attracted an average of 8.9 million people on the same weekend, despite Cowell's hopes that the revamped format would draw in more viewers.

With additional reporting from PA