The first TV debate in the history of UK elections, held on Thursday the 15th of April, 2010, has changed the political history of the country. Forever.
Or at least that’s what presenter Alastair Stewart said during the introduction to the debate; after an initial jingle that sounded like it was written to announce the arrival of the four Horsemen.
The day after, actually, nothing seemed to have changed. The world is still here, the three candidates are in the same position as they were the day before (Clegg advancing, Cameron standing still and Brown slowly sinking) and the voters don’t have the smallest piece of further information.
It is true that on the same night a volcano erupted covering the whole of middle Europe in a dark cloud that paralyzed the transports – but that can hardly be related to the debate.
The whole night the camera merciless panned back and forth across the studio in a desperate attempt to create tension over the debate; but the truth is that they said nothing that hadn’t already been said in any declaration or press release over the past year.
Nonetheless, the show hasn’t been the most boring TV programme ever produced.
It was clearly inspired by an Italian TV show, “Love at first sight”, that used to be extremely successful in the mid-90s.
In this show a young and pretty girl has to choose a man between the three candidates who were running to become the love of her life – or at least choose the one she will take on the prize cruise.
The three male participants stand still in front of the audience, dressed in the same exact suite; the only way to differentiate them is a tie: one is blue, one is red and third one is yellow. Ring a bell?
The girl cannot see the three men, because they are hiding behind a wall.
With the help of the presenter she asks several questions to the men and then chooses in base of the answers. Ring another bell?
Yes, ITV production went a little bit further, setting up the studio with blue-red-yellow neon columns and dressing up the three candidates with the most flamboyant single-colour ties ever seen.
“Love at first sight” had a more sober look. The main difference is of course that the audience here is able to see the three men before choosing them; in fact, the winner was the youngest and most handsome, Nick Clegg. It’s always like that.
I know that everything that I just wrote sounds very critical, but the truth is that I am actually a big fan of TV debates.
Even when they are as boring as this one, they remain a good virtual square in which to debate.
I wish the three aspiring Prime Ministers got rid of the matching ties and started to dress like real human beings, becoming interesting for what they say and not for how they dress the part.
After all, people will be forced to go on a cruise with one of them for the next five years. But I understand this is too much to ask.
Modern democracy is based on flamboyant characters.
In lack of one, we can at least get a flamboyant mise-en-scene.
By Marta Musso
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