An odd title for a programme given that there was only one actual Chancellor and two would-be Chancellors, but never mind.
Just one of the many compromises involved in a programme that was wrongly hyped as paving the way to some sort of televisual history, propelling UK elections into the TV age, in the way which US elections have been conducted since before the Nixon era.
With the big TV channels having secured the potential PMs, Channel 4 snuck in and grabbed the Chancellors and got to show them off first. This must have felt like a coup in the planning. In retrospect, I’m not so sure.
Of all the negotiated positions – who goes first, who stands in the middle, how do we all avoid wearing the same tie – the compromise condition that the audience stay shtum to avoid any appearance of bias was the unexpected downer on the evening.
As the first statements were made, and questions were asked and answered, they sat still, silent, unresponding. To politicians used to the caffeine rush of immediate feedback, it must have felt like they were comedians dying on their arses before a wet matinee in Hull. And people at home were bereft without their live audience barometer to see who was up and who was down.
I could sense the producer wondering what the hell he had agreed to as they sat in frozen silence for nearly 15 minutes.
And then a Vince Cable aside prompted the audience to laugh, despite whatever pre-broadcast contracts they had signed in blood, and the spell was broken. They immediately returned to the same sepulchral silence, but at least we knew they were breathing. Continue reading