Britain's Got Talent Silences The Voice In Ratings War

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Britain's Got Talent silenced The Voice last night by pulling in double the audience as the BBC1 suffered a ratings collapse.

An average of 11.4 million saw Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey the dog triumph in the live final of the ITV1 show against 5.6 million for The Voice.

ITV claimed the programme was the highest rating show of the year so far, nudging ahead of a Coronation Street episode which pulled in 11.2 million in January.

Adding viewers for ITV's +1 channel brought the audience to 11.9 million for the BGT finale, with a peak audience of 14.5 million. The peak without +1 was 13.8 million.

Last night show boss Simon Cowell declared the series the best ever, and invited judges Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and David Walliams to return next year.

But it was dismal news for The Voice, which has seen its audience plummet. At one stage, when station bosses had scheduled a series of head-to-head clashes, The Voice had won the ratings battle for three consecutive weeks - but since then it has been losing pace as viewers have lost interest in the show.

It was also hampered by a much earlier start last night - 50 minutes earlier than normal.

Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, said: "Britain's Got Talent 2012 has been an amazing series, with an incredibly high calibre of acts, culminating in a really special final.

"We are delighted that viewers tuned in in their millions to watch Ashleigh and Pudsey be crowned this year's winner."