Millions of UK viewers tune in for Michael Jackson send off

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The Independent Online

Michael Jackson's star-studded memorial was a bigger draw than EastEnders, according to overnight viewing figures.

Some channels cleared their schedules to show the Los Angeles celebration live - further complicated by the event running longer than expected - but it proved to be a ratings winner, with a combined audience of more than 6.5 million tuning in.

BBC2 drew an average of 4.5 million viewers for the spectacle - more than double the normal figure for the early evening slot - while Five landed 1.2 million and Sky News was watched by almost 900,000.

The edition of EastEnders on BBC1, screened at 7.30pm, had an audience of 4.7 million. The final 15 minutes of BBC2's Jackson coverage had 5.2 million viewers.

The Sky News audience was the largest since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.