BBC defends decision to pit Strictly Come Dancing directly against X Factor

BBC defends decision to pit Strictly Come Dancing directly against X Factor

By Ben Dowell

Thursday 28 August 2014 at 04:00PM

So why will viewers have to choose between Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor on Sunday September 7?

The schedules published yesterday show that BBC1 is screening the Strictly opener at 8pm – right up against The X Factor at the same time on ITV.

The reasons for the clash are complicated, but it appears that BBC1 opted to show Strictly at the later time - last year’s launch show opened at 6.50pm - to avoid being put up against two episodes of Coronation Street.

Two Corrie episodes which would normally air on Monday September 8 have both been moved to the Sunday and will air between 7pm and 8pm to make way for the Switzerland v England European Championship qualifier which ITV is airing on the Monday.

And so why is Strictly starting on a Sunday rather than a Saturday as it normally does? Well, BBC1 is still showing Tumble on Saturday nights and needed to start showing Strictly in order to complete the series before Christmas.

The Strictly opener will feature the new hosting pair of Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, a red carpet event, a cameo from Sir Bruce Forsyth - and the pairing off of the contestants with their partners. After a two week gap - during which they are trained up - Strictly is understood to be returning with the live shows on Fridays and Saturdays.

And while some viewers may still grumble at having to choose between two of Britain’s most popular shows, ITV appears to feel aggrieved even though it is not saying so on the record.

A spokeswoman of the scheduling on Sunday September 7th: "The X Factor has been scheduled at 8pm on Sunday, just as it has been in previous years when there has been no clash."

Meanwhile the BBC is adamant that it had no choice but to pit Strictly against The X Factor.

A BBC spokesperson said: "We always try to avoid direct clashes but it's important that Strictly launches in primetime and with the extra episode of Coronation Street coming in, it's unfortunately left us with very little room to move on this occasion." 

A source added: “Once Coronation Street dropped into the schedule we had no choice but to go against one of their juggernauts – it was either The X factor or Corrie so we went for the better slot at 8pm for Strictly where we could get the biggest possible audience.”

Whether viewers agree will be another matter.

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