The first live episode of Strictly Come Dancing saw a peak audience of 10.1 million on Saturday, as viewers flocked to tune into the family favourite.
The show raked in a total of 1.6million more viewers than 2019, suggesting that the familiar format is a comfort to many amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The BBCs show’s ratings tally make it the second most-watched entertainment programme of the year, behind Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.
Roaring success: 10.1 million Strictly fans tuned in to watch the series’ first live show on Saturday, which featured the show’s first ever same-sex performance
Saturday’s episode saw Judges Shirley Ballas, 60, Craig Revel Horwood, 55, and Motsi Mobuse, 39, all return to the judging panel, while Tess Daly, 51, and Claudia Winkleman, 48, hosted.
Nicola Adams and Katya Jones left fans in tears as they made history as the first ever same-sex couple to perform on the show, while HRVY and Janette Manrara came top of the leaderboard.
The boxer, 37, and the professional dancer, 31, were praised as ‘absolute dynamite’ and a ‘fantastic partnership’ after they performed the Quickstep to Get Happy by Ella Fitzgerald, and the performance earned them a score of 21 which saw them come in joint third place.
Show stopper: Motsi was full of praise for Saturday’s top scorer HRVY, saying: ‘this was the best first dance I have ever seen, ever, ever, and I have to praise you, this was awesome’
Wow! EastEnders star Maisie Smith and Gorka Marquez also impressed judges, coming in a close second with a score of 24
Motsi Mabuse went on: ‘I have to say I was very curious how it was going to happen, how it was going to work out.
‘Nicola I can see you have a strong core, you need to work on it to make sure its more stable, that being said oh my goodness, you rocked it!’
While Craig Revel-Horwood added: ‘Well they proved its absolute dynamite, I absolutely adored that routine… small little things [to improve] but what a fantastic partnership.’
Fans were gushing over the historic performance, as they took to Twitter to say they were ‘in tears’ while many said they were picking the pair as their winners.
A particularly emotional viewer said: ‘Katya looks amazing!! Her and Nicola have done an amazing job I’m crying watching this, knew I would. I love this pairing, I love this so much.’
One person wrote: ‘Not me nearly crying at Nicola and Katy a #StrictlyComeDancing she is so CUTE!!! that footwork was AMAZING.’
While another added: ‘So emosh at Nicola Adams and her historic and excellent quickstep.’
Another gushed: ‘Well Nicola and Katya that was sensational….great choreography and proves anything is possible.’
HRVY and his partner Janette closed out the show, and wowed with their Jive that they came out on top after impressing the judges.
Craig began by asking HRVY about his name not having any vowels, before he said of the dance: ‘The jive was absolutely spectacular.’
Firm favourites: Saturday’s episode saw Judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Motsi Mobuse return
Shirley added: ‘I still think HRVY’s the one to watch, we have to remember this evening the talent is amazing you are no exception you are at the top of your game this is a fierce competition.’
Motsi was also full of praise, as she said: I’ mean for me this was the best first dance I have ever seen, ever, ever, and I have to praise you, this was awesome.’
‘My thoughts now are where do we go from here HRVY? Well done a great ending to a great show, I absolutely loved that.’
Fourth judge Bruno Tonioli was unable to travel back to the UK from his home in LA for the filming due to the Covid-19 crisis and his work commitments on Dancing With The Stars.
This year’s couples have formed their own separate ‘bubbles’ to allow them to train and perform, and are being regularly tested to avoid a virus outbreak during filming.
The show will continue to have a live audience, though members of the public will be seated in their separate households or ‘bubbles’ and will wear a mask throughout filming.