Everything you need to know about the BBC Election Debate

David Cameron and Nick Clegg will not be appearing, leaving Labour leader Ed Miliband and the four other parties to state their cases in the 'challenger' debate

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When is it?

Thursday 16th April, 8-9.30pm

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How can I watch?

On BBC1, BBC News and Sky News, or you can listen on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Who is taking part?

Everyone who took part in the first leaders’ election debate – except Conservative leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. The Coalition government will have no representatives after the wrangling over how exactly these TV debates would work.

This has unsurprisingly caused a bit of a ruckus. Clegg has complained that Cameron had “denied him the opportunity” to speak, while Labour accused the Conservatives of “ducking” another head-to-head debate.

Mr Cameron said this was “part of the deal that was done to unblock the log-jam about TV debates”, while the BBC released a statement saying broadcasters had done their utmost to ensure “that their audiences were offered the best possible combination of programmes to help them engage with the election, to inform them about the issues and to scrutinise the politicians”.

What’s the format?

Each leader will make brief opening statements. There will then be up to five questions from the audience, and each leader will have a minute to answer. There will then be ten minutes of debate chaired by Question Time’s David Dimbleby – shorter than the 18 minutes allotted in the first debate. Phew.

At the end, everyone will be able to make their closing remarks, and then we’ll all de-camp to the ‘Spin Room’ to pore over what happened.

Who stands where?

Lots were drawn to decide the podium order. From left to right, they are…

Who speaks first?

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has the honours this time round, while Ukip’s Nigel Farage will have the final say. Here is the order in which the leaders will respond to the questions:

Who’s in the audience?

The BBC have selected 200 voters who reflect a cross-section of political opinion. None of the leaders will see the questions in advance.

What happens next?

There will be a half-hour ‘reaction’ programme following the debates from 9.30-10pm, which will also feature representatives from the Conservatives, Lib Dems and the Democrat Unionist Party. Thursday’s Newsnight (10.30pm, BBC2) will be coming from Northern Ireland.

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On 30th April, a week before election day, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg will appear separately in a special edition of Question Time, taking questions from the studio audience.