£5million betting frenzy 20 million to watch TV finals.MORE than 20 million people are expected to tune in to the finals of the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing tonight.
Each show has routinely pulled in average audiences of nine million or more viewers, often peaking at more than 10 million.
There is also set to be a betting frenzy with record £5million expected to be wagered - with £4 million of that on the X Factor.
Last night Online firm Betfair said it has so far taken an amazing £991,000 in bets on X Factor.
Betfair punters have also so far placed a total of £105,000 on BBC reality show rival Strictly Come Dancing.
The record for a non-sports TV show was the 2002 final of talent show Pop Idol between Gareth Gates and Will Young, which attracted £3.5million worth of bets.
David Williams, of Ladbrokes, said: "There is every chance that record will be beaten. All the heavy money has gone on the X Factor."
Another source said: "Amazing sums of money are being placed for today's big reality TV finals."
And with the frenzy of interest generated by the climax of both shows, insiders predict a close run in the ratings battle.
One said: "The BBC and ITV will be wanting to win the fight for viewers as much as the actual contestants in the shows.
"The X Factor has just about edged the battle so far with more wins than Strictly Come Dancing but it's all about the final.
"Simon Cowell in particular is determined to make X Factor the biggest and best show on television, he'll be desperate to win."
Both shows have helped restore the fortunes of Saturday night television after years of dwindling audiences.
Two weeks ago, ITV enjoyed its best Saturday performance for three and a half years with a 40.7 percent audience share. In a surprise development yesterday Bookies tipped Cowell's act Journey South to snatch victory on ITV.
Manchester heart-throb Shayne Ward had been tipped to win the ITV talent show at 7/4 favourite and walk away with the £1 million record contract.
But the 21-year-old heart-throb could be let down by a poor choice of songs for the final by his mentor Louis Walsh, according to bookies William Hill.
Spokesman Rupert Adams said: "We were gobsmacked when we saw which songs the finalists will sing.
"Louis has chosen a tired selection for Shayne whereas Journey South have three real classics."
Binman Andy Abraham is trailing well behind in third place.
Viewers will see each singer will perform three songs with the public voting for the winner. Shayne, 26, will sing Over the Rainbow, When A Child Is Born and If You're Not The One.
Andy Abraham, 41, from Enfield, north London, will do O Holy Night, When a Man Loves a Woman, and Me and Mrs Jones.
Duo Journey South - brothers Andy, 29, and Carl Pemberton, 24, - will sing Merry Xmas (War is Over), Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me and Let It Be.
The Journey South brothers admitted they were desperate not to make any mistakes. Carl said: "We're feeling pretty positive. We'll just go out and enjoy ourselves""
Andy said earlier: "We're trying to cram in as much practice as we can. It's a massive night and everything has to be right. Practice makes perfect."
But Ladbrokes said Shayne appeared to have it in the bag.
Mr Williams insisted: "Shayne has attracted the attention from female fans both on stage and in the betting shops. We''ve been overwhelmed.
"He looks to have got the X Factor wrapped up.
"We'd be surprised if we get out of jail by avoiding another big payout on the sexy soloist."
Each of the contestants have already recorded the winner's single, That''s My Goal, which is released next Wednesday.
After the winner is crowned, viewers will see the presses start to roll to make the single. TV judge Simon Cowell's record company BMG signs up the winner.
Cowell said the song has "a few"" Christmas bells and is from the writer behind Atomic Kitten's Whole Again and Leave Right Now by Will Young.
Meanwhile, former athlete Colin Jackson is favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing in tonight's rival final.
Bookies estimate up to £1 million will be bet on Strictly Come Dancing.
Ladbrokes have reported a late flurry of bets on Darren Gough and fear he could cost them £250,000 alone, if he wins.
Spokesman Carl Williams said: "In the past seven days there have been a huge amount of bets put on by women, most of whom have opened up new telephone accounts with us for the first time.
"They are all placing small stakes - on average around £5 and it could end up costing us all a small fortune."
Third favourite Zoe Ball also told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast she can''t wait to perform her speciality - the tango, adding: "It was definitely my favourite and I'm looking forward to that.
"But we're also doing the samba, which I'm not fantastic at, so I'm working hard at improving."
Gough's rise to become second favourite to win after Jackson has got bookies worried.
David Williams of Ladbrokes said: ""If Darren lands the Strictly Come Dancing prize, we'll be well and truly stuffed."
"The burly Yorkshireman was 25/1 back in October and we expected him to stumble into oblivion. But it's just not happened."
Gough has been cut to just 5/2 from 3/1 behind 8/13 odds-on favourite Jackson.
Zoe is now the 4/1 outsider but yesterday judge Arlene Philips predicted the DJ should win the reality TV show.
The Mirror this week exposed five-man gang that had made more than £100,000 by betting on the outcome of reality TV shows including the X Factor.
Show begins. The three finalists each sing three songs. Rehearsals had Shayne, Andy then Journey South
X Factor ends
Results show begins
Third placed finalist voted off
Top two sing their favourite song
Winner is announced
Colin and Erin dance Quickstep
Darren and Lilia dance Foxtrot
Zoe and Ian dance Tango
Colin and Erin dance Rumba
Darren and Lilia dance Paso Doble
Zoe and Ian dance Samba
Knocked out contestants Bill Turnbull, Fiona Phillips, Patsy Palmer, James Martin, Gloria Hunniford, Dennis Taylor, Will Thorp, Siobhan Hayes and Jaye Jacobs dance
Results show begins
Finalists dance Viennese waltz as group
Third placed couple revealed
Third placed couple's last dance
First of two remaining couples dance
Second couple dance
Bruce Forsyth sings Let's Face the Music and Dance