Eight million watch final leaders' TV debate

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An audience of eight million viewers tuned in to see the final party leaders' debate on BBC1 last night, overnight viewing figures showed today.

The third of the 90-minute shows had an average audience of 7.5 million viewers, who saw Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg put through their paces.

The first debate on ITV1 a fortnight ago drew an average 9.4 million people, with a combined audience of around four million watching Sky's coverage last week.

BBC1's coverage last night had a peak audience of eight million at 9pm.

The coverage was up against Coronation Street on ITV1 with 6.7 million and Five's screening of the Uefa Europa League clash between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid on 3.4 million.

The BBC said that adding BBC1, BBC HD and BBC News Channel audiences, the average audience totalled 8.1 million viewers.

Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, said: "We are delighted by these figures, which demonstrate a real appetite for serious political debate presented with class and confidence."