The EastEnders actor waltzed off the ballroom dancing show with a huge 9.38m and an audience share of 36.4%, at 7.30pm as the BBC One ballroom reality show managed to depose Downton Abbey from its well-worn ratings crown.
The X Factor, which averaged 8.88m (33.6%) on ITV1 and 295k (1.1%) on +1, may have peaked higher than Strictly's 5-minute high of 10.1m (37.7%) as Tulisa Contostavlos act Jade Ellis left the competition.
Downton Abbey maintained a colossal 9.24m (35.7%) for series three's penultimate episode, adding 277k (1.5%) on ITV1 +1.
Elsewhere on ITV, Surprise, Surprise's Holly Willoughby-hosted revival held solid for a second week in the 7pm hour with 4.29m (17.2%). The classic reunion show, ITV's highest-rated programme to ever air against Strictly on Sunday evenings, added 345k (1.3%) on timeshift.
Back on BBC One, Countryfile continued to impress with 7.13m (31.5%) at 6.30pm, 5.23m (19.8%) watched The Antiques Roadshow two hours later, and Andrew Marr's History of the World could only attract the attention of 2.3m (8.8%).
A new series of Harry and Paul kicked off on BBC Two with 1.48m (7.1%) at 10pm, prior to which Dragons' Den nabbed 1.99m (7.6%).
Meanwhile, Homeland's latest Channel 4 instalment drew 1.81m (7%) at 9pm (+1: 361k/2%), while a screening of Nicolas Cage's 2007 film Next took 1.56m (6.9%) at the same time on Channel 5 (+1: 127k/0.9%).
Overall, ITV1 reigned victorious in primetime with 26.2% (+1: 1%) ahead of BBC One's 21%. BBC Two claimed third place with 5.8%, just above Channel 5's 5.4% (+1: 0.3%). Channel 4 finished last among the terrestrials with 4.2% (+1: 0.8%).
The Xtra Factor dazzled 933k (3.6%) on ITV2 after the main show from 9pm (+1: 102k/0.6%), before 976k (5.1%) caught The Only Way Is Essex at 10pm (+1: 104k/1.1%).
Finally, the fourth series of Misfits began with a respectable audience of 566k (3.1%) on E4 at 10pm, and 124k (1.4%) on +1.
BARB ratings data supplied by Attentional