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.
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…
Well, there’s no doubting SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon came out of it well, but other than that it depends on who you ask…
Miliband wins with ICM and ties with ComRes and Survation but naturally the Tory press are only quoting YouGov… pic.twitter.com/IMThpDrWF0
— Reading Labour Party (@ReadingLabour) April 3, 2015
The really winners were us, though, who were treated to no end of gorgeous rainbow-coloured graphs…
— Telegraph News (@TelegraphNews) April 3, 2015
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 3, 2015
What do the papers say?
Unsurprisingly, they can’t decide either. Here’s a handy round-up…
How did Julie Etchingham do as moderator?
Most people seemed to think she was very good…
AND the winner of the Leaders debate was … the impeccable #JulieEtchingham
— Nigel Pickover (@Nigel_Pickover) April 2, 2015
— Astrid Haigh-Smith (@astridsviews) April 2, 2015
In fact, some reckoned other hosts could learn a thing or two…
— Angi Mansi (@WorkPsychol) April 2, 2015
…as well as some politicians…
— Ellis Ferguson (@ellfergy) April 2, 2015
There were even propositions (we’ll talk to her people and get back to you Mark…)
— Mark Steward (@marktheram7) April 2, 2015
Of course there are always a few dissenters, otherwise it wouldn’t be politics…
— paul kennedy (@poljkennedi) April 2, 2015
— Dan Palmer (@QuirkyDanPalmer) April 2, 2015
Plenty of people also spotted an uncanny resemblance to a certain ruthless game show host…
— James Quaife (@JamesQuaife) April 2, 2015
The truth was, the studio did look a lot like a special edition of The Weakest Link…
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.
— ITV News (@itvnews) April 2, 2015
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.
Were there any streakers?
No. Sadly not.