Ratings for Strictly Come Dancing’s first live show of 2019 were down on last year, with more than a million fewer tuning in compared with 2018.
Saturday’s show on BBC One drew an overnight audience of 7.72 million – down on the 8.85 million who watched the first live show in September 2018.
That figure will rise once on-demand figures are added.
Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher and his professional partner Oti Mabuse ended the show topping the leader board.
It was Fletcher’s first appearance on the programme after he was brought in as a replacement for the injured Jamie Laing.
James Cracknell, in contrast, found himself propping up the leader board following his tango with partner Luba Mushtuk.
According to Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir, the Olympic rower “shuffled through his first dance with the tortured expression of a man with a scorpion attached to his scrotum”.
The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan said “a night of surprises on the Elstree Studios dancefloor made for a cracking start to the 2019 contest”.
Saturday’s programme also saw Motsi Mabuse dole out her first scores as the newest member of the Strictly judging panel.
Jan Moir said she made “a confident and winning debut” on what she called “a terrific opening show”.
The next edition, to be aired on 28 September, will be the first to see one of its dance pairings voted off the show.
This year’s pre-recorded launch show had an overnight audience of 7.81 million, down on the 8.06 million who tuned into last year’s launch show.
That figure rose to 9.26 million once catch-up figures were added – bringing it within a quickstep of the 2018 launch show’s consolidated audience of 9.33 million.