Strictly Come Dancing ratings rise as AJ Odudu impresses the judges

Strictly Come Dancing has seen its television audience grow to almost eight million viewers, according to overnight ratings.

The BBC said an average audience of 7.9 million tuned in on Saturday night to watch the couples compete in front of the judges for the first time.

The BBC One celebrity dancing competition was watched by a peak audience of 8.4 million and had a 47.9% audience share.

Last week’s launch programme was watched by an average audience of seven million, with a peak of 7.3 million and a 44.7% audience share.

Last year’s series opener achieved an audience share of 42.2% and a peak audience of nine million viewers.

On Saturday, television presenter AJ Odudu impressed the judges as she topped the leaderboard alongside her partner Kai Widdrington with a score of 34 for her jive to Gold Dust by DJ Fresh.

Judge Motsi Mabuse hailed her routine “the best dance of the evening, without a doubt”.

Great British Bake Off star John Whaite came joint second on the leaderboard with 30 in the competition’s first all-male pairing alongside professional dancer Johannes Radebe.

Olympic swimming champion Adam Peaty was also given a score of 30 by the judges after performing with Katya Jones.

No celebrities left the show during Saturday’s episode.

Instead, the judges’ scores will be carried over to next week when viewers will have the chance to vote for their favourite of the 15 couples.

Celebrities including comedians Robert Webb and Judi Love, BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker, actor Greg Wise and actress Rose Ayling-Ellis are also among the stars taking part in the current series.

Dragon’s Den star Sara Davies currently sits bottom of the leaderboard with a score of 17.