Strictly Come Dancing has always struggled to compete with its reality rival and this year has proven much tougher than usual -- with the BBC dancing show attracting around five million less than the average X Factor episode, despite changing its broadcast date to directly conflict with its competitor. It's lost viewers, guest-singers and may be losing a host. So, as the final approaches we ponder what the future holds for the celebrity dancing series…
The X Factor has already, unofficially, been picked up for more and why wouldn't it be? It's had advertisers fighting for slots this year having consistently drawn more than ten million viewers to each show and is one of the financial highlights for an otherwise struggling channel. Strictly Come Dancing on the other hand hasn't. Chances are it won't be axed as the BBC take pride in their averagely-rating show, but if it were on ITV, where audience figures make much more of an impact, things would probably be different.
The first, and seemingly only time, that Strictly has ever beaten The X Factor in the reality ratings war was during their premiere series in 2004 -- where their viewing figures reportedly peaked at 11.2 million and 9.9 million people respectively. Since then, the dancing show's audience figures have consistently deteriorated in comparison to its competitor (though they have risen slightly over the years). In 2009 The X Factor has gone out of its way to beat the BBC show, even convincing Mariah Carey to appear exclusively on their singing show when she'd already agreed to perform on Strictly Come Dancing.
Stars including Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse and Nelly Furtado have all sung on the ballroom show this series, but it's singer-turned-judge, Alesha Dixon, that's attracted the most attention to the show. Unfortunately, the previous celebrity winner took her place on the panel amid an age debate as she'd replaced long-standing judge Arlene Phillips, and more recently, there were also rumours (since squashed) that she wouldn't be on the panel next year because of a date conflict with her upcoming tour.
If that wasn't enough, Anton Du Beke has made racist remarks towards dance partner Laila Rouass and distinguished 81-year-old presenter Bruce Forsyth caught the flu this season, meaning that he had to miss an episode. Though he's since been healthy enough to host every other show it's left many critics' wondering whether he'll be able to continue much longer.
One thing's for sure though, Strictly Come Dancing will return for its Christmas special this winter with Brucie and eye-candy Tess Daly at the helm, and before all that, the winning celebrity has to be crowned. This weekend the winner will be announced and it's between Hollyoaks' actor Ricky Whittle and BBC Breakfast sports presenter Chris Hollins. Whittle, despite being the better dancer, was in the bottom two last week and bookies are betting that Hollins will win. Who will win? Do you still care?