It is a battle that could have perhaps been avoided had either the BBC or ITV backed down and rescheduled, but Strictly Come Dancing and The X-Factor went head-to-head for the first time this year on Sunday, with the dancing reality show winning out. ITV will have hoped the return of Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell would have been enough to pip its rival - airing its first season without Bruce Forsyth - though it wasn't to be.

Simon CowellThe return of Simon Cowell was not enough for The X-Factor to beat Strictly

Strictly returned with 8.4 million viewers on Sunday - a 33.7% share of the audience between 8pm and 9.15pm. The X-Factor had to settle for second place, with 7.6 million viewers and a 27.9% share between 8pm and 9.05pm.

More: X-Factor contestant dies aged 25

Cowell had previously accused the BBC of trying to "damage" his show by scheduling the dancing programme directly against X-Factor, though the corporation said it had no choice after ITV moved an hour-long Coronation Street to Sunday night to make way for England's Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway on Monday.

It's no great surprise that Strictly won out - it's consistently beaten The X-Factor for the past two years and forged ahead after Cowell quit the show three years ago to launch a now cancelled version in the U.S. 

Claudia WinklemanTess Daly [L] and Claudia Winkleman [R] host 'Strictly Come Dancing'

Sunday's edition of The X-Factor was also down 2 million viewers on the same episode last year - when Gary Barlow was head judge. However, that instalment only had Antiques Roadshow to deal with.

It was more pleasing news for ITV on Saturday, when The X-Factor pulled in 8.7 million viewers - 41% audience share that was up 400,000 on last year's show (when it was up against Strictly).

More: check out our Cheryl Cole