'X Factor' UK Ratings Continue To Wobble


The ratings smash has been beaten by BBC's version of "Dancing With The Stars" for the first time in four years.

LONDON - Simon Cowell's undisputed dominance of British television is looking a little more vulnerable after yet another ratings wobble from ITV hit X Factor.

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The show's ratings average fell from 10.1 million last week to 9.6 million on Saturday night compared to Strictly Come Dancing - the UK version of Dancing With the Stars - which drew an average audience of 10.2 million on BBC1.

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X-Factor peaked with 10.1 million at 19.45 BST, some way behind the 11.3 million peak watching the BBC's celebrity dance extravaganza Strictly.

X Factor UK's ratings last week had begun to sound an alarm bell when they were significantly down on the show's performance a year ago. The last time the BBC show beat X Factor was in 2007. 

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Cowell's recent big-money game show Red Or Black also failed to wow viewers, despite being the most expensive entertainment show ITV has launched in recent years.

Without Simon Cowell in the line-up, there were always fears that the ITV show might lose steam. But ITV bosses will be wondering how they can turn around a show that now has a rump of former viewers just not bothering to tune in.

The simple answer - bringing back Simon Cowell - looks ever more tricky as Cowell wrestles with the challenge of pulling off Fox's X-Factor. And, according to some insiders, the problem is not just Cowell. Several of the ITV1 show's top production staff have  moved to work on the Fox show, and a number of on-air glitches suggests that their presence is missed.

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This year's judging line-up of Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavios, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow, have not meshed in the same way onscreen, with many viewers taking to Twitter to dismiss on-screen rows between Tulisa and Kelly as "fake."

After Kelly Rowland apparently had to cry off from the show with what her agent described as "a viral throat infection," viewers were not impressed, either with her phone-in to wish her team well, or her replacement, the former X Factor UK winner Alexandra Burke.

Chat show host Jonathan Ross was just one of hundreds of fans who were unpersuaded by Rowland's apparent sickness, Tweeting:

"Kelly Rowland is delivering the least believable sick voice I have ever heard. She's clearly not ill."

Piers Morgan was also unimpressed.

"I think someone needs to politely explain to Kelly Rowland that quaint old showbiz phrase 'the show must go on,'" he Tweeted under the hashtag #SickMyA**

Meanwhile, hundreds of viewers were similarly negative about Alexandra Burke - who some thought had been given the position on the show because she has a record release coming up on Cowell's Syco record label.

Celebrity news site HolyMoly blogged: "nobody please incite Alexandra Burke back, please," while Mr Paparazzi Tweeted "Seeing Alexandra Burke on X Factorhas made us realise how much we like Kelly Rowland. Former England Rugby captain Will Carling crudely spoke for many when he Tweeted "Doesn't Alexandra Burke talk utter shi*e!! No idea what she is talking about."