Almost half the Saturday night TV audience watched Louis Smith take this year’s Strictly Come Dancing crown, as a peak of 14 million viewers – a 49.1% share – tuned in for the climax of the show on BBC1.
The result seals victory for Strictly in this year’s battle of the talent show behemoths, with the X Factor final – on ITV1 less than two weeks previously – having been watched by 1.3 million less, after failing ratings saw it come off worse to its BBC rival several times during the series.
The Strictly Come Dancing double-bill finale drew an average of 12.4 million viewers for the first show at 6:30-7:55pm – up from 12.2 million the previous year – while the audience for the results show, between 8:50pm and 10:05pm, dipped just below the 12 million mark recorded in 2011. Across the two shows, Strictly pulled in an average of 49% of the TV audience.
On the night, the judges made Denise van Outen Louis Smith’s biggest rival, awarding her perfect scores of 40 in two of her three dances, compared with Louis’ one, but the viewers’ vote (perhaps bolstered by Louis' topless routine in the second dance) carried the Olympic silver medal-winning gymnast to the title.
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: "Strictly has enjoyed an outstanding year, with dancing and entertainment of the highest quality. Darcey Bussell has been a tremendous addition to our wonderful judges, and there is a positive and warm energy about the show that families and people of all ages have enjoyed.
“Strictly's warmth is at the heart of its success and I want to thank all those on and off screen for helping to make it such a brilliant series."
Darcey Bussell, who joined the judging panel for this series, has confirmed she will return next year.
Christmas Day on BBC1 sees a festive special of the show, featuring celebrities including actress Sheila Hancock, comedian Katy Brand, JLS star Jonathan Gill and former footballer Fabrice Muamba (see the full line-up here).