The first show of the new run, which aired between 8.30pm and 10pm, was the most-watched programme of the night on any channel. The audience peaked with 9.07m (37.7%) at 9.45pm.
Last year's opening episode of Strictly pulled in 6.03m (32.8%) over an hour from 6.30pm on Saturday, September 13.
ITV1 had 3.01m (12.6%) for Rebus in the 9pm hour. Earlier, between 8pm and 8.30pm, Fix My Finances? Tonight had interested 2.58m (12.2%).
BBC Two's Mastermind put in 2.24m (10.6%) at 8pm, then half an hour later, Gardeners' World appealed to 1.57m (6.8%). A new episode of The Tudors followed with 1.33m (5.5%).
Brighton Beach Patrol delivered 1.07m (4.8%) to Five in the 8pm hour, then a repeat of NCIS put in 850k (3.5%) from 9pm. A double-bill of Law & Order: Criminal Intent logged audiences of 1.05m (5.8%) and 808k (7.3%).
On Channel 4, A Place In The Sun: Home Or USA? grabbed 699k (3.4%) at 7.30pm, then culinary quiz The Big Food Fight was seen by just 545k (2.3%). Derren Brown: How To Control The Nation had an impressive 3.05m (12.8%) in the 9pm hour, with a further 598k (3.5%) on timeshift, then a new series of Peep Show launched to 1.81m (9.2%).
Overall, BBC One flourished in primetime with an average share of 30.1%, a full 11 points ahead of ITV1. Channel 4 was third with 7% (+1: 1.2%), followed by BBC Two with 7.2% and Five with 3.9%.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional