Following the extremely protracted negotiations which have played out in public, David Cameron has finally agreed to a time and format which suits him, and so will take part in the televised debates prior to the start of the general election. The new format, which will take the shape of a seven way debate between the leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru; to be hosted by the BBC and ITV respectively (2nd of April). A “challengers” programme which features the SNP, UKIP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party (30th of April). And finally, the format which Sky have publicly announced today, a programme called 'Cameron & Miliband Live: The Battle for Number 10'. This new format will be broadcast on the 26th of Match and promises to be be very different to the proposed standard debate, and comes after Sky found themselves between a rock and a hard place, with Number 10 on one side and angry customers on the Sky customer service free phone number.
This programme, with its hyperbolic name that evokes the newest Hobbit film more than anything else, will be presented by Channel Four's election anchor Jeremy Paxman. In it, he will interview both candidates one on one before Kay Burley opens to the floor and moderates questions from the audience, who will be putting questions directly to the men who may well be Prime Minister come election day.
The programme will be produced by Sky News live from a London venue and broadcast simultaneously across Channel Four and Sky's media portals, as well as on YouTube and other social networking websites. It will be executive produced by Sky News' John Dowden and the commissioning editor for Channel 4 is Head of News Dorothy Byrne.
Crucially, neither of the two leaders will be on stage at the same time. This was Mr Cameron's demand if he was to take part in the debates at all, and led to Sky initially choosing to leave Mr Cameron's chair empty, much to the applause of the Sky TV free number. It wasn't long before the pressure got too much for Sky and the other broadcasters though, and they put forward heavily revised plans to suit the Prime Minister.
Jeremy Paxman said: “This is the most intriguing election for decades. It's going to be tremendous fun to find out what Cameron and Miliband plan for us if they get the chance. After all one of them will be Prime Minister.”
Kay Burley said: “I am delighted to be part of this major programme right at the start of the election campaign, and have a chance to put the views of the voters directly to the next potential leader of the country."
Jay Hunt, Channel 4’s Chief Creative Officer said: “It’s thrilling that the election campaign will kick off with David Cameron and Ed Miliband interviewed live by Jeremy Paxman on Channel 4 and Sky News. The Leaders Interviews will be a real opportunity for viewers to see the men who could be Prime Minister in action.”
John Ryley, Head of Sky News said: “We are extremely pleased that the Conservative and Labour party leaders have agreed to take part in a programme that will kick start the election campaign and put the two people most likely to be the next Prime Minister under scrutiny in front of millions of viewers across the UK."
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