North American networks can learn from BBC

Two weeks after watching the excellent “Question Time Leaders Special”, I was once again delighted when the “Prime Ministerial Debate” also aired on domestic and world services of the BBC on Dec. 6.

It dramatically demonstrated how efficient and superior Auntie Beeb is in producing political television, when compared to her counterparts in Canada and U.S. Apparently, this was the very first time that only two British Party Leaders debated each other on live television, to the exclusion of the smaller parties who have no chance of winning the UK election on Dec. 12.

The two front-runners met head-to-head, mano-a-mano in the BBC studio auditorium. The moderator was Nick Robinson, who took no nonsense from either party leader, and the questions came from an audience of 100 selected by pollsters, with equal representation from Conservative, Labour and undecided voters.

The debate lasted for an hour, was serious with very few personal attacks, and only one brief chuckle when the question was asked about what politicians should have to do when they are caught lying.

To help viewers there was a fact-checking panel appearing at the side of the television screen, indicating in real-time when either of the debaters strayed from the truth. A 30-minute introduction explained everything in detail before the debate.

A 30-minute spin room segment following the debate had representatives from the Conservative, Labour, Brexit, Green, Plaid Cymru (Welsh), Liberal-Democrat and Scottish National Parties. All received equal opportunities to give their summation of the debate, and voice their preferences for or against its participants.

I’ve recently witnessed shambolic amateur hour political television such as the diabolical debate debacle in Ottawa during our recent Canadian elections, and the circus continuing to go around and around in Washington with impeachment hearings.

There’s no doubt the BBC is in a league of its own in this genre, and should package these two most recent programs as a teaching tool for television networks in Canada, the U.S. and beyond.

Bernie Smith

Parksville

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