TV COLUMN: General election results coverage

James Waller-Davies
James Waller-Davies

Columnist James Waller-Davies gives his view of some of the recent events on television...

There was a barrage of general election television to choose from. David Dimbleby headed up a large BBC team with a set and techy gimmicks that gave more a feel of the star-ship Enterprise. Jeremy Vine, all legs and arms, loped around like a praying mantis dancing in a digital playground.

Over on ITV, presenter Tom Bradby spent his evening reining in the exuberance of former chancellor, George Osborne, for whom all his election Christmases had come at once. Osborne and his fellow chuckle brother, Ed Balls, had a field day tearing into Theresa May and her manifesto. You needed a good widescreen television to get the full range of Osborne’s permanent grin.

Channel 4’s Alternative Election: The Results was the channel to be if you wanted a less formal and more irreverent analysis of electoral trials and tribulations.

Jeremy Paxman led the panel including comedian David Mitchell, the ever outspoken Julia Hartley-Brewer, and Richard Osman. Channel 4 may have lacked the gravitas of the other channels, but at two in the morning it was the only coverage offering anything to alleviate the stodge of the quiet hours before the results thickened up.

The highlights were pretty thin on the ground. The exit poll clanged a knell on the outcome for all contending parties, Tory, Labour, Lib Dems and SNP alike.

In Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg approached the podium like a man leading his own funeral cortege. The Cheshire cat smiling days of ‘I agree with Nick’ seemed a long time ago. Once again, Enoch Powell’s political lament that ‘all political careers end in failure’ rang true.

Jeremy Corbyn celebrated a victory not actually won; Theresa May, with hollow eyes, corpsed her way through a speech she’d never thought she’d be making. Tim Farron and Amber Rudd aged visibly through endless recounts. Vince Cable, regaining his Twickenham seat, gave his victory speech with the same cheerlessness with which he gave his losing speech two years ago.

As daylight came, the commentators continued to pick over the bones of another dead, done and dusted election. And the most likely outcome? We’ll be doing it all again, probably before the end of the year.

Coincidently, A Night to Remember was also the title of the 1958 film about the sinking of the Titanic. I’ll just leave that one hanging there.