The triumphant end of the latest Strictly Come Dancing series secured top spot in the ratings once again, as 9 million viewers tuned in for early face-off between Halfpenny, Julian Clary and Denise Lewis, a 39% share of the total television audience.
The second half of the Saturday night double bill saw Halfpenny and her dancing partner Darren Bennett crowned champions, witnessed by 10.6 million viewers and a massive 44% share of the audience.
Strictly Come Dancing’s Saturday night rival, ITV1’s X-Factor, which saw solo artist Steve Brookstein beat off the classical warblers G, mounted a firm challenge but couldn’t pip BBC One’s hugely successful gem.
The first part of its grand final was watched by 8.1 million viewers, while 9.7 million viewers tuned in to see the heavily criticised Brookstein win the £1m recording contract.
ITV1 managed to retain more of its viewers in the late Saturday slot though, as Donny Osmond served up the channel’s second musical helping of the evening with festive sing-a-long show, Christmas Mania.
The 10pm show, which featured turns from Roy Wood and Croydon’s finest, Katie Melua, had an audience of 5.2 million viewers, while Billy Connolly’s comedy-cum-travel show World Tour of New Zealand, which kicked off at 9.30pm on BBC One, could only manage 3.9 million.
Elsewhere, Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant helped Channel 4’s 9.30pm movie, Notting Hill, rack up a 20% audience share.
While BBC One may have danced ITV off the floor in the Saturday peak, ITV certainly swept up the following evening.
Between 7pm and 11pm, ITV1’s ratings didn’t drop below 7.5 million viewing, while its audience share was never below 30%.
Rural drama Emmerdale at 7pm had 7.7 million viewers and Coronation Street a whopping 10.9 million.
A super night for ITV drama continued as The Royal, a hospital drama set in Yorkshire in the 1960s, took a 35% audience share of 8.9 million, and the first outing of a new feature-length Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple at 9pm, starring Joanna Lumley, Jamie Theakston and Geraldine McEwan in the title role, had over 8 million viewers.
BBC One will be disappointed that only 6 million tuned in to watch Olympic hero Kelly Holmes crowned the winner in the channel’s flagship Sports Personality of the Year show.
Michael Aspel and the Antiques Roadshow experts pulled the BBC’s biggest audience of the night with 6.2 million switching on at 6.45pm to catch the edition from King’s College, Cambridge.
BBC Two’s biggest draw was car show Top Gear at 7pm with 3.2 million viewers, while Channel 4 topped out with 2.2 million for its film Bring It On, a US high school flick starring Kirsten Dunst, at 9pm.
Five’s weekend peak came at 9pm last night with archaeological extravaganza, Golden Mummy Tomb Opening – Live, hosted by Kate Sanderson from Egypt’s Valley of the Mummies, which dug out 1.9 million viewers.
By Martin Hemming and Kevin May