Last night's X Factor kicked off with six million viewers – the lowest launch since the show first began in 2004.

The new series of The X Factor has kicked off with six million viewers – the lowest launch since the show first began in 2004.

The return of Simon Cowell’s ITV talent contest drew an average of six million viewers (32% share), peaking with 6.9 million (36%).

It is a drop from last year’s opener when an average of 6.8 million and a peak of 7.5 million peak tuned in.

The figures make it the lowest launch since the programme – this year with Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh back on the judging panel – first kicked-off in 2004, when 4.9 million watched the opening night.

But The X Factor was by far the most watch programme of the night, with the next highest rating show being Casualty on BBC1 with 3.5 million viewers.

The 14th series of The X Factor began on Saturday, a week before the return of BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing.

The show continues on Sunday night, when viewers will see a singer who lost five stone, a dinner lady called Gaga and a grandmother who brings Simon Cowell fish fingers.

Numbers include ITV’s plus-one channel but are set to rise when consolidated figures are calculated for viewers watching on catch-up.