Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 09:01 UK

Cowell urges ITV to avoid clash

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell says viewers want quality TV not a ratings war

Simon Cowell has said the prime time TV clash between The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing is "crazy" and he hopes to persuade ITV to move The X Factor.

Writing in the Sun, Cowell said it was unfair to force licence fee payers to choose between the two popular shows.

The X Factor judge criticised the BBC for "creating a ratings battle" and said he would try to persuade ITV to move his show to a different time.

The two shows are scheduled to go head-to-head for an hour on Saturday nights.

I'll try to persuade ITV to move The X Factor back or forward, whatever they need to do

Strictly Come Dancing starts at 7.25pm on BBC1, while The X Factor starts at 8pm on ITV.

The seventh series of Strictly, which kicked off on Friday, also has two special Friday night shows, at 8.30pm on BBC One, for the first two weeks.

The X Factor, now in its sixth series, was watched by just under 10 million viewers when it started on 22 August.

The BBC said its timings were made necessary by a new series of Merlin.

Cowell, who admitted he likes Strictly, said: "I don't think there are any other shows people are passionate about right now - and it's crazy that they're up against each other."


Lots of viewers would be "frustrated" that they could not watch both shows on Saturday nights, he added.

Actress Linda Bellingham
Actress Lynda Bellingham has promised to bring some 'comedy' to Strictly

Cowell said he was surprised that the BBC, which does not need to attract advertising, had prompted the clash and said licence-payers wanted quality TV, not a ratings war.

He said airing the programmes at different times would benefit both channels, in the same way that EastEnders was not screened at the same time as Coronation Street.

The TV star said he would be happy to chair a meeting between the BBC and ITV, and thought the scheduling clash could be "solved within 20 minutes".

"I'll try to persuade ITV to move [The X Factor] back or forward, whatever they need to do," he said.

"I'm prepared to do everything to give the public what they want," he added.

The X Factor has only two more shows of auditions before judges Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole are assigned categories.

Public vote

Meanwhile Strictly Come Dancing contestants face their first public vote on Saturday 19 September.

Find out who is first to be booted out of Strictly Come Dancing
BBC One at 1925 BST on Saturday 19 September

Eight of the 16 couples performed their first dances on Friday, with actress Lynda Bellingham getting the biggest cheer from the crowd, despite head judge Len Goodman declaring "both legs were down one hole of [her] knickers".

Bookies' favourite, boxer Joe Calzaghe, was left trailing at the bottom with a score of 16 for his tango, while former Hollyoaks actress Ali Bastian was awarded the highest score of 30.

Rav Wilding, EastEnders actor Ricky Groves, BBC sports reporter Chris Hollins, athlete Jade Johnson and former world tennis number one Martina Hingis also performed.

Next Friday and Saturday will see Natalie Cassidy, Footballers' Wives stars Zoe Lucker and Laila Rouass, Jo Wood, former jockey Richard Dunwoody, actor Craig Kelly, Phil Tufnell and Ricky Whittle take to the dance floor.

The two shows have overlapped for 30 minutes in the past, although Strictly usually finished before The X Factor, allowing fans to watch both if they wanted to.

ITV was said to be "disappointed" at the BBC's "aggressively competitive scheduling".

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