The 2015 Leaders’ Debate will be held this evening.
The two-hour long debate, hosted by ITV’s Julie Etchingham, takes place at MediaCityUK in Salford from 8pm to 10pm on ITV and ITV HD.
Lots have been drawn to determine the podium order, and the seven leaders will appear on screen, left to right as follows – Natalie Bennett, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, Ed Miliband, Leanne Wood, Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron.
The drawing of lots for the podium positions also decided the order in which each leader speaks on the opening and closing statements and on the initial answers to the audience questions. The speaking order follows a pre-determined grid. The way the lots were drawn means that Natalie Bennett will be the first speaker in the debate and David Cameron the last.
The leaders will make short opening statements at the beginning of the programme and closing statements at the conclusion of the debate.
During the two-hour live debate, leaders will address questions posed by the studio audience.
The format will allow each leader to give an uninterrupted one-minute answer to each question, before the debate is opened to moderated discussion between the leaders, for up to 18 minutes on each question.
The debate will address four substantial election questions with enough time allocated for a proper free flowing debate between the leaders.
ITV has asked the audience for their questions, as well as ITV viewers, who have been asked to submit questions via [email protected].
An experienced editorial panel is selecting the questions which go through to the debate on the night. The questions will not be seen by the leaders in advance.
The audience of around 200 people has been selected by polling company ICM. It is broadly demographically representative of the UK. It is also politically balanced.
Around 80% of the audience will be made up of voters who express a voting intention at the time of recruitment. Around 20% of the audience will be “undecided”, defined as being interested in politics and intending to vote, but not having decided which party to vote for at the time of recruitment.
There will be one break for leaders during the two-hour live broadcast, and ITV will go to a commercial break to facilitate this.
The BBC News Channel and Sky News will also carry the debate live and will be reporting from and around Manchester in the lead up to and after the event.