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'Strictly' hits new series high

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'Strictly' hits new series high
The publicity surrounding John Sergeant's departure from Strictly Come Dancing helped bring in the programme's best audience this year last night (Saturday).

The latest performances show, which saw the political journalist return for one final dance, drew an average of 10.16m (42.6%) between 6.20pm and 7.25pm. The audience peaked with an impressive 11.74m (47.2%) in the final five minutes.

Immediately after Strictly, ongoing fantasy drama Merlin continued to ascend the ratings. The latest episode pulled in 6.42m (25.6%) over 45 minutes opposite The X Factor, logging the show's second best audience of the series. Only the premiere has fared better, with 6.65m (30%) on September 20.

ITV1 kept hold of the lead in primetime, however, with more than three hours of reality TV. A Take That-themed X Factor performances show delivered 10.64m (43.2%) between 7.25pm and 8.55pm, peaking with 12.2m (49.8%) at 8.20pm. The latest update from I'm A Celebrity followed with 8.8m (37.2%), then the X Factor results show - in which Rachel Hylton was eliminated - notched up 9.15m (41.1%).

Pre-X Factor, You've Been Framed brought in 4.42m (18.8%) and Harry Hill's TV Burp had 5.64m (22.8%).

On BBC One, the National Lottery draw interested 4.65m (19.2%), then Casualty brought in 4.78m (19.8%) until 9.10pm. The second episode of Outnumbered followed with 3.44m (14.5%).

ITV1 improved its average primetime share one point to 37.5%, while BBC One fell slightly from 22.3% to 21.9%.

BBC Two drama Einstein and Eddington, starring Andy Serkis and David Tennant as the two brilliant physicists, had an admirable 1.94m (8.5%) between 9.10pm and 10.40pm. Earlier, a repeat of Stephen Fry In America picked up 1.55m (6.4%). Overall BBC Two's share rose from 5.4% to 6.2%.

Five's NCIS double bill appealed to 1.05m (4.2%) and 1.37m (5.7%) from 7.15pm, then at 9.10pm, CSI logged 1.51m (6.5%). Law & Order: Criminal Intent drew 929k (4.7%) at 10.10pm. Five was up from 4.7% to 5.1% for fourth place.

Channel 4 had a very poor night, dropping to an average share of 3.2% and last place of the terrestrial broadcasters. Animals in the Womb was the most-watched programme in primetime, with 860k (3.4%) from 7.10pm. Bear Grylls's Born Survivor: Bear Eats had just 600k (2.5%) from 8.10pm, then a repeat of new drama The Devil's Whore interested 760k (3.3%).

ITV2's The Xtra Factor delivered the best multichannel audience of the day, with 1.01m (6.8%) tuning in for post-results reaction from 10.40pm. The pre-results edition suffered slightly from being up against I'm A Celebrity on ITV1, but still managed a decent 651k (3%).

The channel's I'm A Celebrity spinoff show - pushed back to 11.25pm - picked up 395k (4.6%). An early evening screening of The Mummy was also popular, with 533k (2.9%) between 5pm and 7.25pm (+1: 146k, 0.7%).

Ratings data supplied by Attentional

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