Entertainment & Arts

Strictly Come Dancing launch gets record audience

The dancers and presenters of Strictly Come Dancing 2016 Image copyright PA

Strictly Come Dancing's series launch got an average of 9.3 million viewers on Saturday night - a record audience for an opening episode of the show.

The audience peaked at 10.1 million as the BBC One show's 14th series began, with celebrities and professional dancers meeting for the first time.

Contestants include singers Anastacia and Will Young, actress Lesley Joseph and former shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

Last year's launch episode got an average of 8.7 million viewers.

Mr Balls, who was paired with "fierce and fabulous" new Russian dancer Katya Jones, said he and his wife - Labour MP Yvette Cooper - found watching his performance "traumatic".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ed Balls referred to his dancing as "dad moves"

"I'm not sure whether I was more traumatised by my dad moves, which looked rather more dad-like than I had expected, or the pictures of me with all of these sparkling celebrities looking like I'm about to serve them the drinks in this bow tie," he said.

Dancers now have three weeks to master their first routine before the live shows begin.

Meanwhile, ratings for ITV's The X Factor improved from last weekend, when its series opener got an average audience of 6.8 million - its lowest for an opening show in 10 years.

Saturday night's third episode - broadcast after Strictly had finished - got an average of 8.3 million, with a peak of 9.2 million.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The X Factor's judges are Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell

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