The Leaders’ Debate: Who won, who watched, who was the Weakest Link – and who was that heckler?

Paul Jones rounds up the results of last night's ITV debate with the help of social, and other, media...

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Thursday night’s Weakest Link Politics Special seven-way Leaders’ Debate wasn’t the damp squib many thought it might be after all the build-up and hype.

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As I left work on “Maundy” Thursday night, I did wonder how many people might be tempted to go straight to the pub for a pre-Bank Holiday pint or four rather than heading home to watch a political debate. But the overnight ratings show the programme actually outgunned Emmerdale in its usual slot, and on Twitter there was a battle of the search terms to rival any political confrontation, as debate-related hashtags vied for top trend.

Here are some key questions about the debate as answered (or not) by social, and other, media…


How many people watched it?

Overnight ratings figures show the programme averaged an audience of 7 million – a 31% share of the viewing audience in its 8pm-10pm slot – and peaked with 7.4m, which is better than long-running soap Emmerdale manages at 8pm-8:30pm. Maybe ITV will consider a weekly debate (although they may have their work cut out convincing David Cameron…)


How popular was it on Twitter?

The Leaders’ Debate was Twitter on Thursday night. It accounted for a staggering 94.6% (or 96.3%, depending on who you talk to – a lot anyway) of all TV-related chat that day, with 1.5 million tweets sent. And if you weren’t paying to promote it, it wasn’t trending (and, yes, Anne Robinson and Weakest Link were debate terms as I’ll explain below). 

That reminds me, I haven’t had breakfast yet…

https://twitter.com/KMUKSocialTV/status/583908213613002752


Who won?

Well, there’s no doubting SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon came out of it well, but other than that it depends on who you ask…

The really winners were us, though, who were treated to no end of gorgeous rainbow-coloured graphs…


https://twitter.com/SkyNews/status/583753653850345473


What do the papers say?

Unsurprisingly, they can’t decide either. Here’s a handy round-up…

https://twitter.com/suttonnick/status/583757146787078144


How did Julie Etchingham do as moderator?

Most people seemed to think she was very good…

In fact, some reckoned other hosts could learn a thing or two…

…as well as some politicians…

There were even propositions (we’ll talk to her people and get back to you Mark…)

Of course there are always a few dissenters, otherwise it wouldn’t be politics…

Plenty of people also spotted an uncanny resemblance to a certain ruthless game show host…

The truth was, the studio did look a lot like a special edition of The Weakest Link…

https://twitter.com/JamesQuaife/status/583735554765942785


Did I hear something about a heckler?

You did. One young woman couldn’t quite contain her passion and stood up to say her piece. Even Anne Robinson Julie Etchingham couldn’t silence her.

Victoria Prosser was the 33 year old heckler who interrupted proceedings. According to a source speaking to RadioTimes.com, she had been vetted by pollsters ICM, her removal from the audience was “gentle and friendly” and she was “as good as gold” when approached by staff.

Read more in our formerly live blog from the night.

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Were there any streakers?

No. Sadly not.