Election 2010 and how to make it fun
A small figure in a brown coat walks briskly along a dim corridor in the bowels of Broadcasting House. He reaches a locked door and pulls a key from his pocket. It is labelled: “Only to be used in the event of a General Election.”
He opens the door and flips a series of switches. The strip lights splutter to life, one at a time, revealing a single bound-copy of a report called: “Great ideas for the next one” and stamped “Top secret”.
And so it came to pass that the abundantly creative minds at the BBC went into warp drive when the date of the General Election was confirmed.
BBC Breakfast’s Bill Turnbull was soon reporting from a fairground and then their political correspondent tried to illustrate a hung parliament with the aid of a giant chess set. He did his best to make it work, announcing with little confidence that the chessmen, lined up and facing each other were a bit, but not very much like parliament.
Over in newspaper land The Times was tempting readers with a free election map. Phew, thank goodness I noticed that in time – I was just on the verge of going out to buy one (not).
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Psephologists – yes, people who study elections have their own word – will even now be emerging from the cupboard under the stairs with their favourite anorak and sharpening their pencils to analyse the inevitable welter of data from all parties and pollsters.
Already they will be crafting Blue Peter-inspired swingometers from washing-up liquid bottles, pairs of Peter Snow’s old socks and sticky-backed plastic.
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Most us do not wish to drown in election statistics but we don’t want to be patronised either. Vote “no” to TV election reports that:
n Build blue, red and yellow lego bricks to represent the state of the major parties.
n Use a CGI of the London Olympics stadium to show how the parties would fare over the 400m hurdles with each hurdle representing an issue eg NHS, tax, Afghanistan, education, MPs expenses etc.
n On election night, rather than a virtual House of Commons they will create a gigantic game of CGI musical chairs. As each constituency declares a group of animated figures dance around a set of party-coloured chairs. The final result sees the winner claim his seat with the rest falling on the floor. (I might sell this idea to the BBC)
n A political awareness quiz will feature teams of doctors, taxi drivers and soap actors, hosted by Phillip Schofield and Anne Robinson.
n Party leaders (portrayed by soloists from the Royal Ballet) dance round a maypole with coloured ribbons representing the make-up of a possible hung parliament.
n Candidates from marginal constituencies take part in Total Election Wipeout. The one that completes the physically demanding challenge in the shortest time gets a duck house.
n A serious analysis of the leaders’ wives... no, forget that, let’s look at what they’re wearing.