Coming soon … the BBC’s nine Cabinet Contenders’ debates

by Stephen Tall on March 17, 2010

In case the 4.5 hours of Prime Ministerial debates featuring Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron were not enough to sate the appetite of even the most politically-obsessed television viewer, the BBC has revealed plans to broadcast nine Cabinet Contender debates. Digital Spy reports:

… the nine Cabinet Contender debates will see Labour ministers, their Shadow rivals and Liberal Democrat counterparts discussing the key issues ahead of the general election. … The Daily Politics host Andrew Neil will front the Cabinet Contender debates on BBC Two in the two weeks before the election date, which is still to be confirmed. Sky and ITV will also host their own leader’s debates, but neither broadcaster has revealed similar plans to support Cabinet-level programmes.

The ministers, including Lord Mandelson, David Miliband, Vince Cable and Ken Clarke, will appear on BBC Two to discuss subjects such as health, education, defence and crime. … A final debate will carry the theme of “trust in politics” and air the day before the election, although no participants have been confirmed as yet for that discussion.

Each programme will be broadcast from 2.15pm to 3pm on The Daily Politics show, but not in front of a live studio audience as with the main election debates.

Sounds like a welcome development – though it’s hard to see a mid-afternoon debate having anywhere near the impact of the peak-time Prime Ministerial debates on the main channels.