Now that it’s all over, I thought I’d post a quick summary of what I think happened on TV last week.
It’s fairly simple in my view. The BBC went way over the top with their election studio. It was grand and impressive, but despite the lack of presentation, ITV in their little studio on the Grays Inn road were getting all the results first. Sometimes, ITV was 10 or more seats ahead of the BBC. The BBC also did that horrendous ‘ship of fools’ stunt where celebs were given alcohol on a Thames boat, so they could comment on the results to Andrew Neil. Neil does a good job of serious interviews, but here he was charged with trying to elicit content from the likes of Bruce Forsyth and Joan Collins. I cringed as I watched them offer their views on the election.
The saving grace for the BBC was David “the machine” Dimbleby. This election was possibly his finest hour – or 24 hours. He started presenting live on Thursday evening and then went straight through the night and into the chaos of the next day. I’m not sure when he stopped, but I estimated he had gone through to Friday lunchtime – others told me they saw him on air later. Yet he looked fresh and confident throughout. What a performance!
ITV’s set may have felt a bit cheap and cheerful, but they did get all the results first, they had some decent analysis that was not overwhelming (another BBC fault with Jeremy Vine and his green screen) and they really included the online community in the show. They were first to run the Youtube videos of people who could not vote, they had regular looks at Twitter to see what was being said, and they had Will Straw and Guido Fawkes blogging live from the ITV studios.
Sky was informative – they know how to get an immense amount of information on the screen at the same time. Watching Sky news is a bit like watching one of those financial news channels in Asia – three news tickers thundering across the screen with images and audio commentary that are not necessarily connected. But Sky did manage to put a good show together – their major failing in this election has been their partiality.
Everyone knows the Murdoch press favoured the Conservative party, but when it starts feeling like that on Sky News then it’s dangerous for a news channel that should be impartial and informative.
So, in my view, it was ITV news wot won it. Alastair Stewart may get something of a career resurgence from this as he was a decent host during the leader debates (suffering the disadvantage of being first and having to interpret all those debate rules) and a very strong host for the election evening itself.