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Clive Myrie’s Chicken Grilling Launches a Chaotic Four-Channel Extravaganza
Clive Myrie and Laura Kuenssberg fronted the BBC’s election coverage. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC

Standing under a buckling umbrella in the dark, cacophonous Manchester rain, Angela Rayner braced herself for a question from the BBC’s Clive Myrie: “You say you’re not counting your chickens,” Myrie gravely intoned. “What kind of chickens might they be? What kind of chickens would you like to see?” This moment encapsulated the chaotic magic of live, multi-channel TV coverage on election night.

At 10pm, Sky News took the spotlight with the highly anticipated exit poll reveal. The graphic showing “Labour 410” elicited a dramatic reaction from host Kay Burley, whose excited gasps made Sky subscribers scramble to lower the volume. In contrast, Channel 4’s Emily Maitlis and Krishnan Guru-Murthy struggled to fill the screen with content, waiting for their team to fetch the same poll numbers from Sky.

The pundit lineups felt like a reflection of the growing podcast culture. ITV featured George Osborne and Ed Balls, while Channel 4 showcased Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell. Both pairs are chat show co-hosts who typically disagree on surface issues but share fundamental similarities, leading to stilted conversations devoid of depth.

Everyone except for Burley appeared unsure of how excited they should be about the historic swing to Labour, which was largely anticipated by the polls. This uncertainty highlighted another indicator of the poor state of British political discourse—the quirky obsession with which constituency declares its results first. The BBC’s updates from front-runners Blyth and Sunderland added a touch of light-heartedness, with a young volunteer sprinting through a corridor with a bin full of paper defining the night.

As we waited for the big race’s outcome, broadcasters tried to perk up the tedious regular results with visualizations. The BBC excelled, using a giant curved mural of blue rectangles turning red, animated by a flamboyant Jeremy Vine. ITV could only manage a screen the size of a weather map, while Sky’s Ed Conway had a tough job selling a series of confusing bar charts to the half-cut 1am audience. However, Sky’s technical wizards did pull off the presentational coup of the night with their holographic Keir Starmer.

The life-sized 3D future Prime Minister appeared early in the coverage while Rayner struggled with a laggy video link. Silently standing in the middle of the Sky studio, the hologram wasn’t acknowledged by the presenters and disappeared for an hour, making viewers wonder if they imagined it. Yet, it returned later, maintaining a haunting lifeless eye contact with viewers as the camera panned away. Even though Peter Mandelson’s lengthy stint on the BBC panel was eerie, AI Keir was the most haunting vision of the night.

As the major results started flowing in, viewers could pick any channel without missing significant developments. Before that, Channel 4 and Sky News stood out. Channel 4 livened up past midnight when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Carol Vorderman popped in, offering rudeness and rejuvenated energy. Sky’s team, featuring Andy Burnham and Ruth Davidson, provided genuine polarization. Their lively banter often included shouting over each other and forgetting about interviewees waiting on the giant screen because they were too engaged in their own discussions. Embracing the madness turned out to be a winning strategy.

Source: The Guardian