Channel 4’s live debate between Chancellor Alistair Darling and his two would-be successors drew 1.67m (6.6% share) at 8pm last night.

Less than a week after the pre-election budget, Darling went head-to-head with shadow Chancellor George Osborne and Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, grilled by a studio audience and host Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

Ask the Chancellors pulled in half a million more viewers than C4’s 8-9pm slot average of 1.18m (4.5%), according to overnight figures from Attentional. It added a further 172,000 viewers (0.7%) an hour later on C4+1.

Elsewhere at 8pm, BBC1 soap juggernaut EastEnders recorded 9.35m (36.6%), followed by Panorama at 8.30pm. The investigative report, Passports to Kill, explored how stolen British documents played a crucial part in the murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh and interested 2.65m (10.5%).

ITV1’s new series of Countrywise managed to record 3.75m (14.7%)at 8pm, while Coronation Street’s second instalment of the evening drew 9.78m (38.6%) at 8.30pm.

University Challenge entertained 2.93m (11.5%) on BBC2 at 8pm while Raymond Blanc: Kitchen Secrets cooked up 2.13m (8.5%) at 8.30pm. The Gadget Show, on Five, topped the million mark with an audience of 1.1m (4.4%) across the 8pm hour.

Five: Good Times?

Five later debuted new chatshow Justin Lee Collins: Good Times at 10pm. With guests including Louis Walsh, Emma Bunton, Cillian Murphy and Florence and the Machine, an audience of 730,000 (3.3%) initially tuned in to catch the new show.

But this dipped to 490,000 (3.4%) by the end of the show at 11pm, averaging out at 620,000 (3.3%) across the hour. As the series progresses, Five will be hoping for a better performance than JLC’s gameshow Heads or Tails, which achieved a series average of just 580,000 (2.73%) for the broadcaster at the end of last year.

Viewers at 10pm were watching the BBC News on BBC1, that informed 4.32m (20.2%) across the half hour, and ITV1’s News at Ten, watched by 1.99m (9.4%) in the same slot.

BBC2 and C4 were concluding feature-length shows.

The first in a two-part drama, Blood and Oil, saw BBC2 deliver an audience of 2.27m (9.3%) from 9pm to 10.20pm. After a 10-minute edition of Coast, it was followed by Newsnight, which informed 1.02m (7.4%) from 10.30pm to 11.20pm.

On C4, the final edition in series six of The Secret Millionaire recorded 2.23m (9.5%) from 9pm to 10.35pm, with a further 260,000 (1.6%) watching on time-shifted C4+1. It was followed by US drama The Good Wife, seen by 640,000 (4.8%) from 10.35pm to 11.30pm with an additional 85,000 (1.2%) catching up on C4+1.

ITV1 also wrapped up six-part comedy-drama Married Single Other, which entertained 3.95m (15.6%) from 9pm to 10pm, while the latest instalment of Five’s US drama FlashForward drew 1.47m (5.8%) in the same hour-long slot.