Deal reached on TV election debates as broadcasters release dates and format

 
Guy Bentley
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2010's TV election debates were the first in UK history (Source: Getty)

Britain's broadcasters have finally reached a deal with the political parties on General Election TV debates. After what seemed like a never-ending series of concessions and argument the number of debates and their format has been agreed.

One seven-way election debate that will be held on 2 April, hosted by ITV and moderated by Julie Etchingham. There will be no direct head-to-head debate between Ed Miliband and David Cameron. However, Channel 4 and Sky News will hold a live question and answer session featuring the Tory and Labour leaders.

Both men will be interviewed and the 90-minute programme will be broadcast on 26 March. Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley will present the programme. Paxman, who left the BBC's flagship current affairs show last year, said:

This is the most intriguing election for decades. It's going to be tremendous fun to find out what Cameron and Miliband plan for us if they get the chance. After all one of them will be Prime Minister.

All the opposition parties will have the chance to fight it out amongst themselves on 16 April. The five-way debate will feature the leaders of Plaid Cymru, the Greens, SNP, Labour and Ukip. The BBC, who will host the opposition debate, added that there would be "fair representation" of both the government parties and the parties of Northern Ireland to ensure balance.

Green party leader Natalie Bennet, welcomed the news:

We finally have reached the end of the debate about the debates. Cameron's intransigence delayed this process.

However, Ukip leader Nigel Farage was far from impressed. He said the debates were:

So far from the original proposals. Broadcasters should be ashamed.

On 30 April, one week before polling day, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband will appear on a special Question Time programme and answer questions from the audience. Each leader will be appear separately and David Dimbleby will be in the chair.

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