The BBC dancing show embarked on its first live shows of the series over the weekend and the programme easily defeated its long-time rival on ITV in the ratings wars, achieving its highest-ever first live show ratings of 10.2 million viewers.
The programmes overlapped for 45 minutes and the return of ‘Strictly’ saw ‘The X Factor’ lose 1.5 million viewers compared to the previous weekend, with 5.4 million tuning in to watch.
An insider at ‘Strictly’ told The Sun newspaper: “The figures are better than anyone had hoped for. The show is getting bigger and bigger.
“The competition with ‘The X Factor’ is well and truly won.”
‘Strictly’ returned with a show lasting 140 minutes, while it also marked the first appearance of new head judge Shirley Ballas.
The 57-year-old dancer was confirmed as the replacement for Len Goodman earlier this year and she recently admitted she “dropped to her knees” when she was given the coveted TV role.
Recalling the moment, she said: “I was at work in Los Angeles in the studio and the phone went and I excused myself from the lesson and I just dropped to my knees when the lady said we want to offer you the job. So many great people went for the lovely role … and they chose me with my credentials.”
Shirley also revealed she’s been having lessons with Len – who worked on the show for 12 years – in the run up to the series launch.
She explained: “Len, I’ve known all my life, I did some lessons with him, he’s a friend of the family, he’s knows my children. He’s just an amazing man and he’s a fan of me and I’m a fan of him.”