Fall in viewer numbers for Strictly Come Dancing’s first live show

The TV audience for the first live show of Strictly Come Dancing 2023 is down slightly on last year, according to overnight ratings.

Saturday’s episode on BBC One was watched by an average of 6.6 million viewers, compared with 6.8 million in 2022, while the 2021 opening show was seen by 7.9 million.

The first competitive night of the 21st series, which saw 15 couples being their dancefloor battle, attracted a peak audience of 7.2 million viewers, on par with last year.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Nigel Harman and Katya Jones danced a dramatic paso doble (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Last week’s launch show, in which the celebrity contestants were paired up with their professional partners, enjoyed a spike in viewer numbers in comparison with last year.

It was watched by an average of 6.2 million viewers, while the 2022 launch brought in 5.4 million on average.

Actor Nigel Harman topped the leaderboard on Saturday after he closed the programme with a dramatic paso doble.

Dressed as a circus ringmaster, the Casualty actor finished his fierce routine to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana by swirling a cape, landing him and professional partner Katya Jones an impressive first-week score of 32.

Judge Craig Revel Horwood praised it as “the dance of the night”, while head judge Shirley Ballas tipped Harman as “the one to beat”.

EastEnders star Bobby Brazier, Bad Education’s Layton Williams, Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington and former Coronation Street actress Ellie Leach all finished joint second with a score of 29.

Brazier glided his way to the high score in a foxtrot to All About You by McFly with his dance partner Dianne Buswell.

Their performance brought his father Jeff Brazier to tears as he watched on from the audience. The 20-year-old actor is the son of late Big Brother star Jade Goody and TV personality Brazier.

Veteran broadcaster Angela Rippon, 78, showed off her famous flexibility during an energetic cha cha, ending the routine to Dame Shirely Bassey’s version of Pink’s Get The Party Started with an impressive high kick, landing her a score of 28.

Revel Horwood described Rippon’s routine with partner Kai Widdrington as “jaw-dropping”.

Former Family Fortunes host Les Dennis and his partner Nancy Xu placed last with a score of 16 for their tango to Don’t You Want Me by The Human League.

Revel Horwood suggested Dennis’s feet were “stuck to the floor with Velcro”, but added that he “gave it a good go and that’s what it’s all about”.

None of the contestants will go home on the first weekend, instead their scores will be carried over to week two when the first dance off will be held after the couples perform a second time.