Len Goodman to depart on a high as Strictly Come Dancing scores best viewing figures in show's history

Len Goodman bows out as Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge this weekend at the end of the most popular series in the programme’s 12-year history.

An average of 11.3 million viewers have tuned in to BBC One’s flagship entertainment show on Saturday nights – the highest figure ever recorded, according to figures compiled by the Press Association.

Strictly has also roared ahead of its ITV rival The X Factor this year, opening up a ratings lead of around four million.

Ratings graphic showing viewing figures

In 2012 the gap was just 1.5 million.

While Strictly’s viewers have grown steadily over recent years, The X Factor has seen its Saturday audience slump from an average of 9.5 million in 2012 to just 7.3 million in 2016.

Ratings for the Sunday shows in 2016 have averaged 10.5 million for Strictly and seven million for The X Factor.

With no X Factor this weekend, the audience for the Strictly final is likely to be even bigger than usual.

Three contestants will battle it out on the dancefloor on Saturday to become the 2016 champion: actor Danny Mac, sports presenter Ore Oduba and singer Louise Redknapp.

Each will be perform three dances: their favourite routine of the series, the judges’ choice and a brand new “show dance”.

Viewers will also be treated to group performances, special guests and a tribute to Len, who has been with the programme since it began in 2004.

Strictly’s success in the ratings caps a memorable year for the BBC, which has seen bumper audiences for shows including The Great British Bake Off and Planet Earth II as well as its coverage of Euro 2016 and the Rio Olympics.

The final of Strictly Come Dancing will be broadcast on BBC One on Saturday from 6.40pm.

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