But average viewing figures are down on last year's series

Nearly 10 million people tuned in for the launch episode of X Factor 2012, but average viewing figures are down on the 2011 series.

The ITV talent search recorded a peak of 9.9 million in the final 45 minutes of the show, which featured highlights from the London and Manchester auditions with guest judge Mel B, but recorded an average of 8.1 million.

Both figures are down on X Factor 2011, eventually won by all-girl pop group Little Mix, which recorded an average viewing figure of 12 million for its opening episode.

The Simon Cowell talent show was up against Indiana Jones And The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull on BBC1, which had a peak audience of 4.9 million, and was sandwiched between Cowell’s game show Red Or Black. The Ant and Dec fronted show pulled in 4.1 million viewers.

This year’s X Factor sees the return of last season’s judges Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos and Gary Barlow alongside former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, who appeared on the US version of the show.