May & Corbyn face the public on Sky News and Channel 4

May & Corbyn face the public on Sky News and Channel 4

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Monday, 15th May 2017

RTS Award winners Faisal Islam and Jeremy Paxman are sharing hosting duties for May v Corbyn Live: The Battle of Number 10, on Channel 4 and Sky News.

The special programme, to be broadcast on Monday 29th May, has been announced as part of Sky’s coverage of the upcoming General Election, and will feature the first leader interviews of the campaign in front of a live audience.  

In the 90-minute programme, Islam will begin with an audience Q&A before Paxman steps in to interview the respective party leader, before the process is repeated with the other party leader. .

The programme marks the second time Sky has collaborated with Channel 4 in their Election coverage, having put David Cameron and Ed Miliband in the hot-seat in 2015.

Sky’s Head of Politics, Special and Business Journalism, Esmé Wren told the RTS how it took only 10 days to prepare for those interviews.

“Within the 10 days, not only did we have to turn around a whole production studio, we had to get Paxman match-ready, so myself and a couple of people at Channel 4 and here at Sky went offline… just brainstorming back [and] forth. We did rehearsals with people playing the roles of Cameron and Miliband, and within those 10 days we came up with a brief that was pretty rock solid.”

That interview resulted in Cameron’s much-discussed inability to recall the number of foodbanks that there were currently in the country.

“That moment,” recalled Wren, “it was like a virtual punch. [It] felt like a moment, and what is what we’re all looking for creating moments, creating a buzz, creating a pause in the election campaign for people to think, actually this matters, and his view on this actually does make a difference.”

In addition to the live interviews, Sky has revealed that Editor-at-Large Adam Boulton will be returning to anchor the Vote 2017 live programme on election night. He will be based in Sky’s election hub in West London, while Sophy Ridge will be in a specially constructed studio on Abingdon Green in Westminster as the night unfolds.

Sky presenters and reporters will also be across the country on election night, reporting live from key constituencies as the results come in. Kay Burley will be in Maidenhead at Theresa May’s constituency, Colin Brazier will be in North London following Corbyn, and Anna Botting will be in the Lake District in Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat party leader’s constituency, with Sky presenters at other key constituencies. 

Sky is also coming live from an unprecedented 300 constituencies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by using a large team of Sky News staff and stringers.

Additionally the broadcaster is running a series of four short films that will make a one-hour special to run on Sky a week ahead of the election. Sky News specialists will be looking into four key areas for the 2017 Election: the crisis in the NHS, the world of work and jobs, social mobility and Britain’s place in a changing world.



Sky is the latest broadcaster to unveil its election plans.

ITV News’ coverage is being led by Tom Bradby, Julie Etchingham and Robert Peston, with Theresa May sat down with ITV’s Robert Peston for a Q&A on Facebook Live earlier today.

ITV are also promising a leaders’ debate, with invitations extended to all seven major parties in the UK: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, although Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have suggested that they will not be taking part.

The on-the-night coverage will be provided by Bradby, who will be joined by two of the country’s leading psephologists, Prof Jane Green of Manchester University and Prof Colin Rallings.

On the BBC, David Dimbleby will be leading the results team for a tenth time, joined by Emily Maitlis, Mishal Hussain, and Jeremy Vine.

The team will anchor through Election night, before Huw Edwards steps in to guide the audience through the next day and the formation of a new government.

While on Channel 4, the Alternative Election Night is making a return, fronted by Jeremy Paxman, who will be joined by David Mitchell and Richard Osman for an evening of entertainment as the results come in. Highlights of Channel 4’s coverage include a two-hour election special of The Last Leg, and a return of The Fake News Show with Stephen Mangan and Katherine Ryan. 

This article is part of the RTS series Inside Sky's Election Campaign. For interviews from key Sky News figures involved in planning the election coverage, visit the series homepage. 

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RTS Award winners Faisal Islam and Jeremy Paxman are sharing hosting duties for May v Corbyn Live: The Battle of Number 10, on Channel 4 and Sky News.