2000 Why, hello there. This should be an interesting night, morning, and possibly afternoon…
2002 A warm welcome to this live election night blog. It won’t be a good place to find the latest news on the results themselves, but what I can promise is a look at how all the main TV channels are covering a night which, whatever the outcome, promises to be historic. In White City, Holborn and Osterley right now there’ll be a few producers, directors and journalists feeling almost as nervous as the candidates.
2005 I’ve got a feeling I might run out of things to say within the hour, so it’d be great if you could get involved as well. If you spot anything interesting, unusual or funny during tonight’s election coverage, send me a tweet at @blakeconnolly.
2010 Sky News will get things under way in 50 minutes at their traditional 9 o’clock start time. For the first time, their coverage won’t be coming from a special studio, but instead they’ll follow the model they used in their American election coverage in 2008 by having Jeremy Thompson, Kay Burley and Anna Botting presenting on location from the main party leaders’ constituencies. Adam Boulton will be joined by guests, including Sky election regular professor Micheal Thrasher, in the news centre, while Martin Standford will be in charge of the graphics at the newswall.
2014 It’ll also be the full launch of Sky News HD. As well as clearer pictures from the studio and the counts, the HD channel will have its own graphics, making use of the fact that smaller text is legiable in high definition and as you can see here, making full use of the width of the widescreen picture without having to worry about people watching on older, 4:3 ratio TVs:
2022 The BBC coverage will be presented, of course, by David Dimbleby in a typically enormous set, dubbed “the coliseum”, in TV Centre’s Studio 1. be joined at his desk by Nick Robinson while Jeremy Vine will be playing with virtual graphics and a new swingometer in his green screen area. Emily Maitlis will be joined by Peter Kellner at a giant touch-screen to look at seats in detail. Up on the balcony, Paxman will be grilling guests in the way only he can, and Fiona Bruce will be popping up with regular news updates.
2026 This’ll be Vine’s first general election since taking over from the retired Peter Snow. Let’s just hope he doesn’t repeat this, from the 2008 local elections:
2038 ITV’s coverage looks like it’ll be a more laid-back, cosy affair. Alistair Stewart is the host, and he’ll be joined in the vitual reality studio below by Julie Etchingham, who will be in charge of all of the graphics including a complicated-looking set of beakers and water pipes that’ll apparently be explaining how a hung parliament works. Tom Bradby and Professor Colin Rallings will add analysis from the studio, while Mary Nightingale will be hosting an election night party in Westminster.
2044 Channel Four, meanwhile, will be the place to go for laughs tonight. David Mitchell, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr will be joined by Charlie Brooker, an array of guests including a bookmaker with the latest odds and a live studio audience for an entertaining and irreverent look at the results as they come in. Throughout the night there’ll be segments from a special edition of Come Dine With Me featuring the unlikely combination of Edwina Currie, Brian Paddick, Derek Hatton and Rod Liddle. Robert Webb, Sharon Horgan and Peter Serafinowicz take part in a special edition of You Have Been Watching, looking at election coverage and the world of political television. Plus, from time to time the Fonejacker’s cast of characters will be popping up with prank calls.
2047 The last time an alternative, satirical election broadcast was attempted, it was the utterly fantastic Election Night Armistice in 1997, with Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham and David Schneider. Here’s a clip:
2052 Less than ten minutes until Sky’s broadcast gets under way. No matter how brash you might think Sky’s style is, they’ve come a very long way from their first election night in 1992. You really have to see the ridiculously over-the-top opening sequence half way down this page over on TV Ark, along with a treasure trove of past election clips.
2057 Throughout the night, I’ll also be having a look at some of the international and regional coverage of the election. As I mentioned earlier, if you spot anything interesting in the coverage, send a tweet to me at @blakeconnolly. Oh, and as it says up there, press refresh from time to time for the latest updates.
2102 Sky News HD launches with a live shot of Parliament and the sound of Big Ben striking nine. The title sequence uses the familiar red, white and blue seen on Sky over the last month with the theme tune used during the American elections.
2110 Ten minutes into the coverage and still no sign of the studio, Sky delivering on their promise to present the bulk of the programme on location. We’ve had the legendary Jeremy Thompson staring the broadcast from David Cameron’s constituency, Kay Burley walking around the hall where Gordon Brown’s results will be read out, and now Anna Botting in Sheffield for Nick Clegg. The HD pictures so far are crisp and clear, but when going to other reporters dotted around the country, the picture quality has been mixed.
2130 Some very good stuff on Channel Four’s Alternative Election night so far. Definitely worth a watch or, if you’re intent on watching the serious coverage, worth recording. Sadly it won’t be appearing on the 4OD on demand service.
2135 Projections are going to play a big part in the coverage tonight, and I don’t just mean the forecasts of the results. Sky News are projecting some more bizarre light shows, like they did on the night of their debate, this time on to the side of the Houses of Parliament and Battersea Power Station. Later, the BBC will be projecting the exit poll results and vote tallies onto the side of Big Ben.
2150 This very minute, the BBC, ITV and Sky News are receiving the results of their combined exit poll, the first time all three broadcasters have ever combined forces to come up with a single poll. In ten minutes time, as soon as the polls have closed, the results of the poll will be revealed to the nation, with the BBC projecting them onto the side of Big Ben. While most people involved in the election broadcasts will be discovering the poll’s result right now, Adam Boulton has asked his Sky News producers not to spoil the surprise. He’ll find out with the rest of us at ten o’clock.
2154 Time for the coverage on BBC One and ITV1 to begin.
2157 The BBC’s famous “Arthur” election night theme is sadly missing this year, replaced by a less memorable but bombastic piece recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra, accompanying a very bright title sequence with some Prime Ministers of the past projected onto the side of the Houses of Parliament. ITV’s titles are similar to the ITV News titles in both look and sound.
2159 We’re only a minute away now from Exit Poll O’Clock. All three channels have an on-screen clock counting down to the close of polls.
2220 Sunderland is, as usual, trying to be first with the results tonight, aiming to declare at around 11 o’clock.
call me mad, but i’d rather sunderland got their count correct, not broke their necks to break a record. IT’S NOT COMIC RELIEF.
@gracedent on Twitter
2234 Due to reporting restrictions, polling day is usually full of reports about how the weather is affecting turnout, but today there was a shocking addition to the usual reports, with the plane crash which UKIP leader Nigel Farage was lucky to escape with minor injuries:
2238 Sky talking to a crowd gathered outside Nick Clegg’s house to complain that they’ve been “robbed of their right to vote” after being turned away after queuing up outside a polling station until 10 o’clock. They say 200 people were turned away from their polling station and many more were put off by the long queues. It seems that the high turnout and people not getting to vote will be one of the big stories tonight.
2304 The broadcasters have made their first exit poll revision of the night, taking a few seats from the Conservatives and giving them to the Liberal Democrats. As the night goes on and more results come in, the psephologists will tweak their forecasts.
2322 Jeremy Vine has just been knocking over some CGI dominoes.
Hooray! Domino graphics! That’s got to be at least four shots, right there. #needlessbbcelectiongraphics
@PeteNottage on Twitter
2334 Paxman thinks Mandleson has been Twittering on his phone. Mandy says it’s his glasses he’s holding. One of the big developing stories tonight seems to be the thousands of people turned away from polling stations across the country. Many politicians have said that people queueing at 10 o’clock should have been locked inside polling stations and allowed to vote, rather than being prevented from casting their vote. Expect this story for run for hours, and if things are as tight as they look, possibly longer.
2347 As I mentioned, this story of people not being able to vote is rolling on, with Sheffield City Council issuing an apology, reports of sit-ins and crowds preventing ballot boxes from leaving polling stations and Sky running these mobile phone pictures from Islington:
2355 Approaching midnight. My stimulant of choice tonight is Sainsbury’s Classic Cola. I don’t know if it has more caffeine than other brands of cola, but it definitely feels like it.
Hei, wha’s Dumbledoah deein presentin the BBC’s election sher, pet? Shudden he be in Hogwoats meindin Harry Pottah?
@CherylKerl on Twitter
2359 Over on Channel Four, David Mitchell is talking to a panel of comedians. Rich Hall says, “The Tories are in, that’s good for comedy.” German comedian Henning Wehn makes the case for electoral reform.
0007 Before every election, the BBC spends days rehearsing for every possible outcome, including a hung parliament. For the first time since 1974, they’re able to put those particular plans on air, currently talking to a constitutional historian, while Jeremy Vine has been walking down a virtual staircase showing how short-lived previous minority governments have been.
0014 One of the pooled helecopter feeds is out, hovering above David Cameron’s car.
Meanwhile, ITV are scouring Twitter, looking at what people are saying about the people being not being able to vote:
They’re also running these pictures, from YouTube, of a very large queue of people being turned away in Manchester:
0023 Paxman is told to hand over to to Dimbleby, who says “You’re being very obedient Jeremy, what’s gotten into you?” Paxo replies, “I’m being nice to you David, now get on with it!” Dimbleby, introducing Rory Cellan-Jones for some updates from the internet, seems to think that Facebook has been “abolished” today. I think he was referring to this.
0046 Charlie Brooker is currently doing his Screenwipe/Newswipe thing on the Alternative Election Night, bringing a bit of BBC Four to Channel Four.
0051 Sky News are now asking viewers to email in their stories of voting difficulties. It’s not quite Florida’s hanging chad, but it’s certainly keeping everyone distracted while waiting for the bulk of results to come in and if things are very close, it could play a big part in the news agenda in the coming days. Meanwhile, in Belfast, Peter Robinson has lost his seat. Excellent coverage from BBC Northern Ireland.
0101 Some great guests joining David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker for a chat on Channel Four, including Professor Brian Cox and Victoria Cohen. The programme was supposed to end now, but it’s been extended by 25 minutes. The studio audience are split into the different parties they support, bathed in the light of different party colours:
On #c4altelection, the Lib Dem audience have by far the best deal – a nice sunshiney yellow light. Lab = hellish red Tory=stygian gloom
lauriepink on Twitter
0122 All the channels are displaying on-screen seat totals, showing the latest scores. ITV are currently displaying a total of 37 results, compared with the BBC and Sky showing 23. This is because ITV always tends to call results early based on calls from their stringers at the counts looking at how the counts are going, while the BBC and Sky usually basing their tallies on official declarations. In the past, this has caused ITV problems, and it’s not been unknown for them to get it wrong.
0129 One of the strange things about election night is seeing unexpected reporters turning up reporting on the election. For example, tonight Sky have sports presenter Jon Desborough in Eastleigh, showbiz correspondent Steve Hargrave in Poplar & Limehouse, foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall in South Shields and Olympics correspondent Orla Chennaoui in my own constiuency of Hampstead & Kilburn.
0133 Gordon Brown is the first of the main party leaders to hear his constituency result.
0152 Armando Iannucci on Sky News at the moment, so that’s all the excuse I need to pull out another clip from 1997’s Election Night Armistice:
0200 We’re now entering what was, last time around, the busiest hour of the night for declarations.
0214 Time for a late-night snack. I’m going for a Quavers sandwich. Unconventional.
0221 Not particularly keen on Jeremy Vine’s graphics. They fit the brief of being clear and informative, but they’re haven’t impressed in the same way as the designs Peter Snow worked with during the last few general elections.
But what I think has pretty well for the BBC so far tonight has been the in-depth look at seats with Emily Matlis and Peter Kelner at the touch screen:
0234 Alistair Campbell and Adam Boulton on Sky having an argument over media bias. Boulton seems genuinely upset about Campbell’s accusations and is trying to fight his corner.
0252 For a reminder of how far TV election coverage has come over the last 45 years, here’s a clip from 1966:
0302 By this point in 2005, there were quite a few more results in already.The high turnouts across the country have meant that many counts are taking longer.
0311 ITV are taking what I think might be their first commercial break of the night.
0324 CNN are taking two approaches to showing how the seats are adding up. Richard Quest is standing on College Green, with an easel and some coloured stickers. Seriously. While back in Atlanta, there’s a more hi-tech approach with, yet again, a touch screen. But as you can see, they might as well be using a pen and paper:
The comms to Paxo are failing badly & he’s FURIOUS!
boydhilton on Twitter
0406 ITV have revised their prediction, taking a few seats from the Conservatives and giving them to the Liberal Democrats and Labour.
0417 ITV have taken another commercial break, perhaps the pace of results is still too slow for them. It looks like things won’t become clear until well into the morning. Meanwhile, Andrew Neil’s boat on BBC One is getting a mixed reaction from viewers. Some people have been loving the celebrity guests, but it looks like most viewers want to get back to Paxman and Dimbleby.
ian hislop must go to the same stylist as charlie brooker
lazaroumterror on Twitter
0427 TV’s Esther Rantzen fails completely in her bid to win Luton South, polling less than 2000 votes. Former GMTV reporter Gloria De Piero has just about made it in Ashfield, winning for Labour with a majority of less than 200. We’re past the half way point now in terms of seats declared.
0431 At Stansted, cameras focus on the arrival of Gordon Brown’s plane or, as Adam Boulton says, “more importantly, Kay Burley’s plane.”
0505 It’s getting to that stage in the morning when I may stop making sense. Yes, that’s right, it can get even worse. On the cusp of cola being replaced by tea.
0540 20 minutes until the breakfast shifts take over. Jon Sopel and Sian Williams will be in the BBC’s election studio, ITV hand over to GMTV and Sky News will be presented by Eamonn Holmes and Dermot Murnaghan in Westminster.
0603 Because of the large number of results still to come in, due to the high turnout, and because of the uncertainty of the situation, the BBC and Sky News have decided to keep Dimbleby and Boulton on a little longer than originally planned.
0609 GMTV has got underway, though, with political heavyweight Lorraine Kelly on the sofa with John Stapleton. Because ITV recently took ownership of GMTV, they’re able to use ITV News correspondents in their coverage this morning.
0628 @anna_black on Twitter has pointed out that Jeremy Vine’s “paving stones to Number Ten” is reminiscent of a certain popular 1980s Children’s ITV series:
0641 Sian Williams has replaced Fiona Bruce on the BBC News updates, but Dimbleby is still behind the desk. Nick Clegg has urged caution and said that time should be taken rather than rushing into making claims. It could be quite some time before we know what the next government will look like.
0800 Amazingly David Dimbleby is STILL on air, over 11 hours after beginning the broadcast last night.
0819 Eamonn Holmes reveals that he was one of those queuing up for a vote for a very long time last night and argues with a woman from the Electoral Commission.
0845 On Sky, communications problems scupper what was shaping up to be an entertaining and interesting interview between Eamonn and my local MP Glenda Jackson. Viewers could see and hear both of them, but they couldn’t hear much of each other.
0900 A musical montage of the night’s events means that it’s time for David Dimbleby, Nick Robinson and Jeremy Paxman to get some sleep. For the next two hours, Jon Sopel will sit behind the desk along with Sian Williams for what was originally planned to be a Breakfast special. The BBC’s election programme is scheduled to run until 2 o’clock, but for a very long time there have been plans in place to keep going until the 6 o’clock news if needed.
Can’t we just cut to the chase and make David Dimbleby prime minister?
laverneshow on Twitter
0943 All networks are now declaring a hung parliament. The Conservatives will not have a majority to form a government, but Labour and the Liberal Democrats would have trouble doing the same. The next few hours and days will be dominated by negotiations, discussions and attempts to make deals.
0946 Teething problems for Sky’s newest channel as Sky News HD has fallen off the air and is currently displaying a blank green screen. The standard definition version is continuing as usual.
0953 Sky News HD is back on air now. Over at the BBC, Historian Peter Hennessy is in the studio to offer guidance on this once-in-a-generation situation. He calls it “the Mick Jagger election,” with noone getting any satisfaction.
1033 All eyes on Nick Clegg now, making his way to deliver a statement. That means helicopter shots of his car on Sky and the BBC. ITV were due to begin This Morning by this time, but of course they’re staying with these fascinating and momentous events.
1055 Clegg has stuck by his word and said the Conservatives get a first chance to form a government, but made it clear that voting reform is still a big issue. ITV have finished their coverage for now, handing over to This Morning. On the BBC, it’s almost time for Dimbleby to return after his forty winks.
1115 It seems that the next major moment today will come at 2:30pm, when David Cameron will make a statement. There’ll be some results coming in between now and then, but generally most of what happens will be behind closed doors for the time being. Probably a good time to get a little bit of sleep. The blog will continue a little later.
1435 Cameron is now speaking in London. ITV have been in continuous coverage since This Morning have finished, the BBC programme is still on air into the afternoon and Sky have moved Dermot to Downing Street while Jeremy Thompson has been outside Conservative HQ.
1445 A little earlier, Paxman was interviewing London mayor Boris Johnson, who got into a bit of a muddle, comparing a coalition to a “Wall’s sausage.” “The question is whether it is a chipolata or a Cumberland sausage, isn’t it?” asked Paxman with a grin, to which Boris replied, “Enough of this gastronomic metaphor.” To laughter around the studio, Paxman replied, “Haven’t you got a city to run? Go and do it, then!”
1456 Also earlier this hour, due to technical problems Sky political correspondent Niall Patterson had to spend twenty minutes acting as presenter. Andrew Neil is back on BBC One, no longer on the boat from last night, instead is in special studio in Westminster.
1536 After almost 18 hours on air, 16 of which were presented by David Dimbleby, the BBC’s epic election broadcast comes to an end with a montage of the day’s events. In the end, I quite like the theme tune even if it sounds a little like an over-the-top American news theme, it reminds me of the BBC’s millennium coverage. Coverage continues on the BBC News channel from the studio overlooking College Green in Westminster.
1608 Sky are now into what is planned to be, officially, the last hour of their 20-hour election broadcast, but of course this story is now set to run for days to come. As for the BBC, it’s expected that there’ll be extended and additional news updates on BBC One during the weekend, but it’s yet to be seen whether that’s the last we’ve seen of Dimbleby for the week. It’s also worth wondering whether we’ll see that election studio again after it’s used in tonight’s News at Ten – maybe in a few months for another election?
1616 Don’t get me wrong, I think some of Jeremy Vine’s graphics have been pretty good, the virtual House of Commons for example:
…but I felt there wasn’t anything hugely impressive, as there was for the last few elections. When you look at some of the innovations from previous years, many of which look way ahead of their time, there’s nothing this year that has been quite as spectacular or different:
1625 CNN International are doing a pretty good job of explaining the complexities of the British political system to it’s viewers. Sky are using a report on the constitutional procedures around hung parliament by Alistair Bruce, the channel’s National Event Commentator who usually is heard at Trooping the Colour and during State Funerals.
1636 The result for Devon West & Torridge has just come in, the final result of the day. Only one seat is still to declare, Thirsk and Malton, whose vote has been delayed until 27 May following the death of a candidate. Despite the fact that nobody, including myself, believed the joint BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll last night would turn out to be correct, in the end it has turned out to be incredibly accurate, the figures being out only by a couple of seats. Unlike the disastrous errors of the 1992 election, the pollsters today can be very happy with their work.
1710 Sky’s Decision Time programme has come to an end, with the channel returning to it’s normal rolling news coverage with Live at Five and Jeremy Thompson in Westminster. Here’s a quick look at how the new Sky News HD channel looks:
1720 Seems like a pretty good time to finish up. Thanks ever so much for reading, and a very special thanks to everyone who has been in touch over the last 21 hours with some very kind words. It was a pretty easy way of writing almost 5,000 words in a day. Later this evening here on the site, there’ll be the usual preview of highlights for the week ahead, including another clip from E4’s Glee, and a look at tonight’s episode of Lost. As for the election, well… it looks like we might have to do this all over again pretty soon!