ITV accuses BBC of deliberately pitting ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ against ‘The X Factor’

ITV's director Peter Fincham suggests that the BBC wants to 'clip The X Factor's wings'

ITV’s director Peter Fincham has accused the BBC of playing a “game” whereby it deliberately schedules Strictly Come Dancing against The X Factor.

In recent years, Strictly Come Dancing has overtaken The X Factor in the ratings, and when the two shows overlap on Saturday night, the ITV show’s viewing figures tend to take a hit.

The X Factor returns to ITV this Saturday with a new panel featuring Rita Ora and BBC Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw, and when the new series of Strictly Come Dancing begins the following Saturday (September 5), the two shows will overlap by 20 minutes.

“I don’t know why [the BBC] did that, but it feels a bit like, ‘Let’s try to see if we can clip The X Factor‘s wings’,” Fincham claimed during a panel at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

“This really matters to us, because we are a commercial business,” he added. “I know from my own time at the BBC that this is a bit of a game. All the evidence we have from our audiences is that they don’t want the two to overlap. It’s perfectly possible for them not to overlap.”

However, the BBC has denied intentionally scheduling its incredibly popular dance contest against The X Factor, with a spokesperson saying: “We always try to avoid clashes, but we schedule our programmes with licence fee payers in mind and they tell us they want high-quality entertainment at the heart of the Saturday night schedule.”

The BBC’s head of TV Danny Cohen has also brushed off any criticism, insisting: “These things happen all the time. We’ve noticed suddenly Emmerdale finds itself up against EastEnders with astonishing regularity.”