It was a bit of an anti climax. We arrived at the studio at 01:00 on Friday 13th December to watch the general election results unfold. We were to be audience members for Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night.
We were hoping for a more exciting night, but the exit poll put paid to that. The only surprise was the size of the Conservative majority. I think that, and the rain, put people off. There were plenty of empty seats, with stage managers trying to persuade people to stay for longer. The empty seats grew through the night alongside the Conservative majority.
We were given “acqua” coloured wrist bands. We were clearly not interesting enough for the orange wrist bands. We were asked to submit a questionnaire a few days before the show. Orange wrist bands were for audience members who were ‘casted’ to be interviewed by Rylan Clark-Neil. We were spared. We spotted that Rylan Clark-Neil had a flunky to get his eau de cologne that he used to top up his smell during the night.
Channel 4 were keen to keep pointing out that it had invited a balanced audience. The reason being that the Labour Loud (as someone else put it) were in the audience. When asked to indicate our leanings it was fairly balanced between Labour and Conservative with some Liberal Democrats. One particularly vocal guy in the front row kept shouting to blame the media for every Labour set back. We later found out it was Piers, Jeremy Corbyn’s brother.
We think Channel 4 spent so much money on the long list of political and comedic guests that they didn’t have any money left for the graphics that Clare Balding talked us through. All she had to work with was the results of each count and the autocue providing her with insights into various candidates. No swing figures, no comparison by Leave/Remain seats, gender split etc. Most of the audience were browsing websites to fill in the gaps, including the running total of seats that was on the TV screen but not available to us in the studio.
We stuck it out until the bitter end at 06:00 before heading off to Smithfield for breakfast amongst the porters from the market. An interesting experience. At least we will always remember the night of the 2019 election.