The launch episode of Strictly Come Dancing was the ratings victor on Saturday, with an average of 8.8 million people tuning in to watch.

Over on ITV, 5.5 million saw The X Factor as it reached its second week.

Strictly’s ratings were down on last year’s launch show, which drew a record audience of 9.3 million.

The opening show, which had a tribute to former host Sir Bruce Forsyth, had a 44.7% share of the audience, while The X Factor had 27.3%.

The two shows clashed at 20:00 BST, when The X Factor ran against Strictly’s last 40 minutes.

The ITV show featured an audition from Deanna Mussington, who flew over from the Caribbean island of Anguilla to perform before the judges.

The 22-year-old has since returned to Anguilla, which has suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Irma.

Tess Daly, Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton

Sunday night’s X Factor programme recorded ratings of 6.39 million and a 29.8% share of the audience.

The X Factor returned last week with an average audience of six million viewers – the lowest launch show ratings since the show began in 2004.

The launch show of Strictly saw the celebrities teamed up with their dancing partners for the series.

Comedian Susan Calman ended up in tears when she was paired with Kevin Clifton, whom she admitted she had a poster of in her house.

Other pairings saw This Morning’s Ruth Langsford team up with Anton Du Beke and Rev Richard Coles, the show’s first vicar, paired with new professional dancer Dianne Buswell.

JLS singer Aston Merrygold said he was hoping to have a short partner, so was relieved when he was teamed up with Janette Manrara.

On the other end of the height scale, former Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson was happy to be teamed up with Aljaz Skorjanec.

Full list of Strictly pairings

Mollie King and AJ Pritchard, Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez, Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke
Image captionThe celebrities competed to see who could be the most excited about their dancing partner
  • Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez
  • Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara
  • Brian Conley and Amy Dowden
  • Charlotte Hawkins and Brendan Cole
  • Chizzy Akudolu and Pasha Kovalev
  • Davood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova
  • Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice
  • Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec
  • Joe McFadden and Katya Jones
  • Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse
  • Mollie King and AJ Pritchard
  • Rev Richard Coles and Dianne Buswell
  • Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke
  • Simon Rimmer and Karen Clifton
  • Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton

There were no same-sex dance couples this year – but judge Craig Revel Horwood has said he could see it happening in future.

“I think same-sex couples can exist,” he said on ITV’s Lorraine show on Monday, “You only have to decide who’s going to go backwards really, that’s the only difference.”

Revel Horwood pointed out same-sex couples already exist in the world of competition, “so there’s no reason why that can’t happen.”

“If you consider the tango was originally danced between two men anyway… It’s powerful, explosive, and the same can happen between two women.”

Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara
Image captionAston Merrygold was ecstatic to get Janette Manrara as his dance partner

There was discussion about same-sex couples before the launch show, with Susan Calman faced criticism for taking part in their absence.

The Reverend Richard Coles also said he would be more than happy to dance with a male partner.

This lead to the BBC issuing a statement that said they had “no plans” to introduce same-sex couples in the competition.

Speaking earlier, though, Revel Horwood said he thought it would “probably” happen on next year’s series.

The dancer and choreographer will shortly be seen in the West End production of Annie, taking over from Miranda Hart in the role of the tyrannical Miss Hannigan.

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