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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 August 2005, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
New X Factor proves ratings hit
X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louise Walsh
Nearly 75,000 hopefuls have entered this year's competition
The first episode of the new series of ITV talent show The X Factor has proved a ratings success - pulling in 6.6 million viewers on Saturday night.

The show, which sees hopefuls battling it out for the top prize of a recording contract, beat its BBC One rival to take a 40% share of the audience.

The BBC programme, He's Having A Baby hosted by Davina McCall, was watched by 2.4 million viewers.

Ex-pub and club singer Steve Brookstein won the first series of The X Factor.

The 36-year-old picked up a 1m deal with Simon Cowell's BMG label when he was crowned the winner in a live final in December 2004.

Steve Brookstein
Brookstein won the first series of X Factor in December 2004

His debut single Against All Odds went straight to number one in the charts, as did his debut album, Heart & Soul.

However, he failed to capitalise on his early success and was dropped by his record label after eight months.

This year nearly 75,000 hopefuls have entered The X-Factor. They include a dairy farmer who dresses in drag, and a teenager with a voice that has been compared to Whitney Houston's.

The competition has three categories - for 16-24-year-olds, 25s and over, and for groups.

'Real characters'

"The X-Factor has returned stronger than ever with a great mix of talent and some real characters to watch along the way," said Claudia Rosencrantz, ITV's controller of entertainment.

"We are sure the X-Factor will find another top singing sensation," she added.

A BBC spokeswoman defended the BBC's Saturday night offering, saying that He's Having a Baby - which tracks the progress of eight men on their journey to parenthood - was a new kind of reality TV show.

"It is a family show and it is a totally unique format," she said.

"It doesn't follow the traditional rules of a reality show and we are hoping that people will join the fathers as they continue their journey."


SEE ALSO:
Album success for X Factor winner
15 May 05 |  Entertainment
X Factor star ends Band Aid reign
02 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
Steve voted The X Factor winner
11 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
X Factor show gets second series
26 Nov 04 |  Entertainment


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