Nicola Adams’ historic Strictly Come Dancing debut draws highest ratings in years – proving homophobes are in the minority

Nicola Adams (L) and her Strictly Come Dancing partner, Katya Jones. (Strictly Come Dancing/BBC)

Nicola Adams’ showstopping Strictly Come Dancing debut marked the show’s biggest ratings hit in three years for a season opener.

Adams made history on Saturday (October 17) when she was officially partnered with professional dancer Katya Jones, making them the first ever same-sex couple competing on the show.

Strictly’s launch episode raked in an average of 8.6 million viewers – the highest for an opener in three years – winning a massive 42.2 per cent audience share, according to The Guardian.

The lesbian boxer’s debut helped secure Strictly an enormous peak audience of nine million viewers.

The show, currently in its eighteenth season, has faced backlash from LGBT+ viewers in the past for its refusal to feature same-gender couples. Saturday’s ratings hit should help to assuage concerns that queer representation will impact on viewer numbers.

Strictly Come Dancing ratings silence criticism.

The ratings will likely come as a shock to former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who claimed on Sunday (October 18) that “families” wouldn’t be interested in watching a same-sex couple dancing on Strictly.

She told The Sunday Times: “I don’t think it is what viewers of Strictly, especially families, are looking for.

“But that’s up to the audience and the programme.”

Speaking ahead of her debut, Adams said she had no time for homophobes who “can’t watch” her dancing with a woman on the show.

Speaking to Radio Times in October, Adams said: “I’m expecting the same sort of thing I got with women’s boxing in the beginning – there will always be some resisters, but once they know you’re here to stay, they get used to it.

“Women dance together all the time in nightclubs. Traditionally I guess men and women would dance together when they were courting, so the older generation have that in their heads. They see it as a sexual thing rather than a sport.

“So someone’s going to comment on Twitter? It’s nothing, it won’t faze me at all.”

In 2019, Strictly broke new ground when professional dancers Graziano di Prima and Johannes Radebe performed to “Shine” by Emeli Sande.

That dance led to an outpouring of love on social media, but 300 people took the time out of their days to submit an official complaint to the BBC over the routine. The broadcaster later said that none of the complaints would be upheld.