Piers Morgan mocks Dan Walker over Strictly's lowest launch ratings ever

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Golf - European Tour - BMW PGA Championship - Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Britain - May 23, 2018   Presenter's Dan Walker and Piers Morgan during the pro-am   Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
TV presenters Piers Morgan and Dan Walker are golfing buddies. (Reuters)

Piers Morgan has poked fun at his former breakfast TV rival Dan Walker over the launch figures for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing the lowest in 11 years.

Saturday night's launch show saw this year's celebrity contestants – including BBC Breakfast presenter Walker – paired with their professional dance partners for the first time, and also featured group performances from the pro dancers.

The dance spectacular was watched by 7 million people, giving it a 44.7% share of the live viewing figures. 

Read more: Strictly's James Jordan: Unvaccinated dancers don't deserve to be on show

Ex-Good Morning Britain presenter Morgan tweeted a link to the ratings report and teased: "Congrats @mrdanwalker", along with a thumbs-up emoji.

Watch: Who is Strictly's Dan Walker?

Strictly's standalone launch episode – introducing the judging panel and the contestants, as well as pairing them with their dance partners ahead of the competition – was introduced in its eighth series in 2010.

That first launch episode 11 years ago was watched by 8.7 million viewers. The figure dipped to just 6.8 million and then rocketed to its peak in 2016, when 9.3 million people tuned in to watch the launch.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/09/2021 - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Launch Show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Nancy Xu, Rhys Stephenson, Katie McGlynn, Gorka Marquez, Nadiya Bychkova, Dan Walker - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Dan Walker, far right, with partner Nadiya Bychkova on the Strictly launch show. (BBC)

Last year, despite limits being placed upon the show due to the coronavirus pandemic, viewing figures for the launch episode climbed to 8.6 million.

So this year saw a drop of 1.5 million people tuning in to the pre-recorded Strictly launch.

As well as the unveiling of this year's fist all-male coupling between Bake Off's John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, this year's launch saw pro dancer Anton Du Beke make his debut as a full-time member of the judging panel.

<em>BBC Breakfast'</em>s Dan Walker is competing in <em>Strictly</em> this year. (BBC)
BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker is competing in Strictly this year. (BBC)

Alongside Walker, this contestants also include McFly's Tom Fletcher, Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly Ramsay, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, EastEnders stars Nina Wadia and Rose Ayling-Ellis and former Bake Off winner John Whaite.

Comedian Robert Webb, actor Greg Wise and Coronation Street star Katie McGlynn are also among the stars taking to the dancefloor in the hope of winning the coveted glitterball trophy.

Judges Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas will be back, but Du Beke is filling in for Bruno Tonioli.

&#39;Strictly Come Dancing&#39; 2021 contestants Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies. (BBC)
'Strictly Come Dancing' 2021 contestants Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies. (BBC)

Tonioli is unable to take part because of the complications of travelling between the UK and the US, where he judges Dancing With The Stars, amid the COVID pandemic.

Read more: Strictly dancer isolating after testing positive for COVID

The shows were all filmed on site at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, north London, with no studio audience present, and the professional group numbers were filmed in advance.

Comedian Bill Bailey was crowned the winner of Strictly 2020 with dance partner Oti Mabuse.

Watch: Strictly stars are using sign language for EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis

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