Improving on last week's ratings by around 300k, Strictly scored 9.05m (39.2%). Meanwhile, on an evening which saw Louis Walsh describe Frankie Cocozza as having lost his 'swagger' and Gary Barlow compare Sami Brookes to a cruise ship singer, The X Factor dipped by over 600k to 9.8m (39.1%). A strong showing on timeshift (454k, 2%), however, means that in overall viewers the ITV production still has plenty of breathing space.
ITV2's The Xtra Factor followed the main show with 605k (3.1%), beaten in the multichannel ratings by ITV3's Foyle's War and BBC Three's Live At The Apollo.
Elsewhere on ITV1, Harry Hill's TV Burp kept a respectable 4.32m (18.6%) following the debut of its new series last week. The comedy clip show also added 125k (0.5%) on +1. The Jonathan Ross Show, which saw appearances from Seth Rogen and David Walliams, held on to 3.42m (17.5%) and a further 287k (2.2%) on timeshift.
Following Strictly on BBC One, Merlin enchanted 5.71m (22.6%) and Casualty rounded off the evening with 4.61m (18.8%).
Dad's Army amused 1.82m (7.2%) on BBC Two, and the channel's A History of Ancient Britain took 1.24m (5%) against more lighthearted entertainment on the terrestrial networks. QI XL added a few more viewers for 1.5m and an improved audience share of 7.2%.
On Channel 4, a special edition of Time Team scraped 620k (2.4%), and World War II: The Last Heroes hardly impressed with 790k (3.2%). Die Hard 2 fared better with 1.07m (6.7%), and was the broadcaster's only primetime offering to perform well on +1, with 197k (2%).
Channel 5 knew better than to offer any resistance, and a double bill of NCIS was demolished by The X Factor. The episodes scored 562k (2.2%) and 598k (2.4%) in the 8pm hour. Big Brother's audience was halved after Friday's eviction, landing 886k (4.6%).
Overall, ITV edged primetime with 29.8%, with the BBC gaining ground on 27.4%. BBC Two held a reasonable 5.7%, while Channels 4 and 5 were bottom with 3.5% and 3.1%
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional