The BBC One show, fronted by Tess Daly and Bruce Forsyth, nabbed 7.98m viewers for a 33.1% audience share from 9pm.
Prior to Strictly, an edition of Celebrity Masterchef took 2.84m (12.9%) against the second episode in a double bill of Coronation Street.
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On Channel 5, Heaven Africa's eviction brought in a consistent 1.26m (5.2%) for Big Brother, while the subsequent interview segment with the oft-maligned contestant took 1.06m (8.2%) later on. Big Brother's Bit On The Side saw the audience fall to 561k (6.5%). Gavin Henson's The Bachelor remained remarkably steady from 10pm, pulling in 1.09m (6%).
ITV1's offering suffered from competition with top-billed BBC One shows. Love Your Garden and DCI Banks interested 2.91m (13.8%) and 3.36m (14%), with the latter pulling in a further 261k (1.4%) on timeshift.
Channel 4 stalwarts Come Dine With Me and Million Pound Drop did reasonable business for the broadcaster. The foodie competition scored 1.13m (5.3%) from 8pm, and the Davina McCall show hit 1.42m (6.2%) an hour later. Both shows picked up extra viewers on +1, with 126k (0.5%) and 197k (1.2%) respectively.
An evening of rural-themed programming brought a respectable audience to BBC Two. Escape To The Country (8pm), Gardeners' World (8.30pm) and Digging For Britain (8.30pm) took 1.62m (7.7%), 2.02m (9.2%) and 1.21m (5%) respectively.
Sky1's An Idiot Abroad topped the multichannel ratings for the second week running, beating ITV2's X Factor USA. The Ricky Gervais comedy won with 1.07m (4.4%) to the Cowell show's 889k (4.2%).
Overall, Strictly helped BBC One boost its primetime share to 24.1%. ITV1 followed with 20.2%, and BBC Two, Channel 4 and Channel 5 brought up the rear with 6.5%, 5.2% and 4.3%.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional