20m watch TV's talent showdowns

Last night's battle between of ITV's The X Factor and BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, billed with the sense of perspective for which television coverage is famed as 'the biggest showdown in TV history', drew at least 20 million viewers.

On the BBC, there was a surprise victory for ex-England cricketer Darren Gough who beat Olympic silver medallist Colin Jackson, whom bookmakers had given odds of 5/2 to win. Over on ITV, Shane Ward secured a more expected victory on The X Factor, no doubt ingratiating himself further with his ever-increasing fan base by telling the watching viewers the win "was for his mum".

Bookmakers predicted they would be making six-figure payouts, after the announcements, which saw Mr Ward, who had been given odds of 1/2, beat dustman Andy Abraham to win a £1m recording contract. That will roll into action almost immediately, with his record company bosses no doubt determined to ensure a rush-release single will become the Christmas No 1.

For his part, Mr Abraham was magnanimous in defeat, despite having pleaded with viewers to vote for him in last week's episode, admitting that he did not want to return to his career as a dustman. After losing, he congratulated Mr Ward, telling the audience: "He is a star. He deserves to be Number One."

In Strictly Come Dancing, Mr Jackson, who had been given odds of 5/2 to win by bookmakers, smiled tensely as Gough and his dancing partner, Lilia Kopylova, gabbered excitedly to host Bruce Forsyth following their victory, who in turn was almost twitching with excitement as he admitted the winning team had "always been his favourite".

After hearing that five million people had placed telephone votes, making an estimated £1.5m for Children in Need, Gough praised Ms Kopylova's teaching and dancing skills, and mocking his lack of ability at the outset of the third series 10 weeks ago. He explained that was most probably what had attracted him to viewers. "That's what the public like," he said. "I started being nothing, and worked up to this".

Strictly Come Dancing has opened new doors for the winners of each of the previous two contests. Natasha Kaplinsky, who triumphed in the first series, has gone on to become a primetime presenter, as well as retaining her role on BBC Breakfast, while the series two champion, the former EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny, landed a West End role in Chicago.

Winning The X Factor is not necessarily a clear-cut path to long-term success, however. Steve Brookstein, who won the previous series, found himself with an instant No 1 hit when he released "Against All Odds" at the start of this year, but within eight months of his win he had been dropped by his record label.

Mr Brookstein's efforts have been overshadowed by the success of last year's runners-up, the pop-opera quartet G4, who have been among this year's biggest selling acts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

COMPETITIVE +Benefits: Guru Careers: A Business Development Manager / Sales (w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP)

£30 - 50k (DOE): Guru Careers: An experienced Software / Web Developer (PHP) i...

Guru Careers: Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Artworker

£18 - 23k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Ar...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests