General Election 2015: More people watched last night's Emmerdale than the BBC debate

 
Catherine Neilan
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Challengers debate: Less popular than Emmerdale (Source: Getty)

Was it the lack of star quality in the form of Prime Minister David Cameron or the lure of the Dingles? We're not sure but either way last night's leaders' debate got a pummelling in the ratings.

BBC1's Election Debate – billed as the challengers' contest with no Cameron and no Nick Clegg – was watched by 4.3m people between 8pm and 9:30pm, 20.5 per cent of the available audience.
But ITV1 soap Emmerdale, which aired for half an hour from 8pm, attracted 5.5m viewers – 27.5 per cent, according to trade journal Broadcast (£).
It also failed to match the numbers set by the seven-way debate aired on ITV1 on April 2, which drew 7m (31.2 per cent).
Last night's show, featuring Labour leader Ed Miliband, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, Natalie Bennett of the Green Party and Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood, did manage to pull it back however, peaking with 4.9m (23.4 per cent) shortly before 9pm.
It also went on to beat the other ITV programmes running at the same time – Double Decker Driving School and Ice Rink on the Estate.
Nearly two thirds of the audience - 61% - was aged over 45 years old.
Those who didn't tune in missed Miliband standing up to both Sturgeon and Farage over issues including Trident, a left-wing coalition and the prospect of joining a European army.
They will have also missed Farage winding up his co-debaters, and the TV audience, with a side-swipe against their apparent left-wing bias. Farage appealed more directly to the viewers at home, however.

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