Strictly moves to earlier time slot

Strictly Come Dancing is being moved to an earlier time slot – although the BBC has rejected claims it is running scared from The X Factor.

The two shows have clashed for periods of more than an hour at times, leaving frustrated fans having to make a choice or hop between channels.

But on October 31, the overlap will be eased to 45 minutes, although a spokesman for the BBC said the earlier slot had nothing to do with The X Factor and the move was to make way for a new series starring impressionist Jon Culshaw.

He added that the ballroom dancing show – hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly – is a “key part of our Saturday line-up”.

The new time slot will see Strictly starting at 6.50pm and ending at 8.45pm, with ITV’s The X Factor getting under way at 8pm.

The overlap is expected to decrease naturally as more hopefuls are knocked out of the competitions, leading to shorter running times.

The X Factor hit a new high with its biggest ever audience on Sunday.

The show – the second of this year’s live heats – drew a peak audience of 14.8 million, beating even last year’s final.

Saturday’s edition of The X Factor drew an average audience of 10.9 million viewers, 1.6 million more than watched the equivalent episode last year.

On BBC1, Strictly Come Dancing was watched by an average of 7.8 million viewers.