ITV and the BBC are heading for another X Factor/Strictly scheduling battle over the commercial network’s decision to show the first ever Friday edition of its talent show on 26th September – bang opposite the opening live edition of the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
ITV is set to take the bold decision to air the Boot Camp stages of The X Factor across three nights of the weekend, with the current plan to begin the Friday broadcast at 9pm, the same time as Strictly is due to start.
The schedules are due to be finalised at 2:30pm today but are unlikely to change according to sources on both sides.
The BBC is understood to be furious about ITV’s move. A source pointed out that X Factor has never aired on a Friday before while the first live Strictly shows has always been shown at 9pm on a Friday.
A BBC insider said: “It’s very odd as they claim they are doing everything they can to avoid clashes but are playing The X Factor actor on a Friday night for first time ever when Strictly’s first live show has been on Fridays for years.”
According to an ITV source, though, there are valid strategic reasons for the decision. A strong Sunday night schedule, with Downton Abbey returning at 9pm means there isn’t space to fit in a long X Factor, which is why the channel has opted for shorter shows across the three nights of the weekend.
The source added: “The plan to strip Boot Camp and Judges Houses across three nights has been in place for some time. Boot Camp and Judges Houses are always longer shows, and this year we don’t have the space to accommodate a long show on Sundays for these stages, so we have decided instead to strip the shows across three nights.”
The two programmes have already been at loggerheads this autumn, with BBC1 screening the Strictly opener at 8pm on Sunday September 7 – right up against The X Factor at the same time on ITV.
Simon Cowell, who has returned to The X Factor panel after a four-year absence, was furious about this decision, telling journalists: “It happens. I always think when people do that, the people they p****** off are the viewers. They say this isn’t a ratings battle. It is. That’s why they did it. They didn’t have to put it on at the same time as us, they did and it means people have to make a choice.”