England football friendly nets 7m viewers

LONDON - Despite England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008, 7m viewers tuned in to BBC One's live coverage of their 2-0 win over the United States in a friendly fixture last night, according to unofficial ratings.

The match, in which David Beckham picked up his 101st cap at the age of 33 and Chelsea centre back John Terry experienced a partial redemption for his penalty miss in last week's Champions League final by scoring the opening goal, drew a 27.6% share of the audience between 8pm-10pm.

However, it was not enough to beat ITV1's third live semi-final of 'Britain's Got Talent', which pulled in 9.3m viewers and a 35.8% share of the audience between 8.30pm-10pm, giving the broadcaster the most watched show for the third evening in a row.

BBC Two's one-off drama, 'Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story', in which Julie Walters played the late TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse, brought a solid 2.8m viewers and an 11.6% share between 9pm-10.30pm.

The first episode of Channel 4's cookery series 'River Cottage Spring', featuring Devon-based chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, was watched by 1.9m viewers and a 7.2% share in the 9pm-10pm slot. Including Channel 4+1's audience, it had 2.1m viewers and an 8.1% share.

Later on in the evening, US import 'Desperate Housewives' attracted 2.1m viewers and an 11.3% share between 10pm-11pm, rising to 2.3m and 12.2% including figures from Channel 4+1.