sun 14/07/2024

Election Night 2017, BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News | reviews, news & interviews

Election Night 2017, BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News

Election Night 2017, BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News

May's massive miscalculation let Corbyn's costed commitments gain ground

A two-way fist-fight with no clear winner

The latest test of the nation’s perseverance and patience – a snap election called just before the negotiations for Brexit are due to start – seemed like an extraordinary act of hubris at the start.

The initial billing of “Strong and stable” vs “Coalition of chaos”, was a statement that implied the Tories’ lead was so big that only by ganging together could the other parties beat it. It also appeared to be an assumption that was probably fair enough.

However, a decision for Theresa May to fight the campaign on personalities not policies stumbled upon the realisation that hers is awful, and saw the Tories’ lead in said polls reduce dramatically. Meanwhile, Corbyn managed what many thought impossible and ran a pretty accomplished campaign. Crucially, at no point did he or anyone around him mention Hitler, and he proved fairly unflappable while being hounded by a Question Time audience that looked like a Brexit edition of Guess Who?

Dimbleby, Bradby and Boulton sound like a firm of gentlemen’s outfitters from the 1950s

Could a proper fight be on? A two-way fist-fight, just like the old days? It looked promising as blows were exchanged, gaffes made and accusations levelled: “There’s no magic money tree!” people scoffed. “No, but there is a 10 per cent gap between the UK’s corporation tax rate and that of our closet European neighbour,” came the reply. Not a zinger, admittedly, but you work with what you have I guess.

Anyway, as events played out live on TV, we had the usual suspects in very unusual circumstances. The big boys, Dimbleby, Bradby and Boulton, looked to provide solid anchorage, while sounding like a firm of gentlemen’s outfitters from the 1950s (and looking the part, too). As the elder statesmen took charge of their respective channels in much the same way, weighed down by the inertia of formality and tradition, Bradby showed some impressive movement, stepping out to interview experts and heavyweights – including George Osborne and Ed Balls – in what looked like a breakout workspace designed by a suicidal IKEA employee.

Meanwhile, over on Channel 4, Jeremy Paxman, flanked by Richard Osman, David Mitchell and data journalist Mona Chalabi, seemed in danger of actually enjoying himself. The mantle of light entertainer may still be some way off, but he seems to be growing into the role. Not surprising, given the practise he’s had in the last few years.

It may be frothy nonsense, analysing word clouds from the campaign trail and looking at the reaction of Gogglebox viewers, but at least Channel 4’s coverage gave something to watch other than spurious conjecture while we waited for something – anything – to happen. Too often the results shows seem a curious tradition, like the French having Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. It feels like they’re going too early: talking about the results before there are any results means you have to conjure content out of the air like a bullshit magician, or an ill-prepared MP on breakfast radio.

However, as soon as the exit poll predicting a hung parliament looked like becoming a reality, events overtook the programmes presenting them. Seats fell, recounts were called and brows wiped as May’s potential successor, Amber Rudd, scraped home. When you’re looking at a shock like this, the channel ceases to matter, it’s all about the swings and roundabouts. And the U-turns.


As soon as the exit poll looked like becoming a reality, events overtook the programmes presenting them


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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