10 things you need to know about the leaders' debates

Format, length, location, etc.

Thanks to Sky News, we now know the details of the forthcoming party leaders' debates. It's a lengthy old document, but here are the bits you need to know:

  1. Each debate will last 90 minutes.
  2. Alastair Stewart (ITV), Adam Boulton (Sky News) and David Dimbleby (BBC) will be the moderators.
  3. The debates will take place in Manchester (ITV), Bristol (Sky News) and Birmingham (BBC).
  4. The order of the debates will be: ITV (domestic affairs), Sky News (international affairs) and BBC (economic affairs).
  5. The polling firm ICM will manage audience selection: a mix of party supporters, plus 20 per cent undecideds.
  6. The leaders will stand at podiums throughout the debate.
  7. Each leader will have a minute to make opening remarks on the debate topic.
  8. Each leader will have one minute to answer questions.
  9. There will be no ad breaks during the ITV and Sky News debates.
  10. At the end of each programme, the three leaders will shake hands.

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.