Though the BBC One stalwart brought in 7.62m and an impressive 37.3% share from 6.15pm, it lagged over three million behind ITV1 juggernaut The X Factor.
BBC bosses have insisted that the dance show, which last night saw celebrities including Harry Judd and Holly Valance discover the identities of their professional partners, is not aiming to be in competition with the Dermot O'Leary-fronted singing contest.
The X Factor averaged 10.65m (43.6%) for ITV1, with a further 474k (2.1%) catching up an hour later. The rest of the broadcaster's lineup produced mixed results. Red or Black? rebounded a little after struggling during the week, attracting 4.43m (20.1%) from 7pm (+1: 75k, 0.3%) and improving its fortunes to 5.67m (25%) at 9.15pm. A further 160k (0.8%) watched on timeshift.
The Jonathan Ross Show dropped more than a million viewers from its launch last week. Just 2.64m (12.2%) saw Ross interview Alan Carr, and another 132k (0.9%) caught up on +1.
On BBC One, Doctor Who followed Strictly with 5.99m (26.8%), and The National Lottery: Secret Fortune arrived at 8pm with 3.63m (15.4%). The Last Night of The Proms rounded out the evening with 4.34m (19.8%).
Big Brother recorded its lowest audience yet for Channel 5, logging 1.39m (6.4%) for the first highlights show. Law and Order (7.15pm), NCIS (8pm) and Law and Order: SVU (8.45pm) had earlier entertained audiences of 650k (2.9%), 942k (4%) and 838k (2.5%).
BBC Two's primetime offering began with 2m (9.2%) for Dad's Army at 7pm. BBC Proms held on to 1.43m (6.2%) before QI took over the schedule. QI: XL quizzed 1.52m (6.5%) from 9pm, with the audience jumping to 2.03m (9.3%) for The Making of QI.
Thought-provoking documentary Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill informed 1.1m (4.7%) on Channel 4 (+1: 187k, 0.8%), followed by 1.65m (7.4%) for the rather lighter Million Pound Drop from 9.15pm (+1: 120k, 0.7%).
Overall, ITV1 won primetime with 23.3% to BBC One's 21%. BBC Two and Channel 4 scored 7.5% and 5.3% respectively as Channel 5 was left trailing with 4.1%.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional