The debate had been built up across the BBC’s broadcast and digital assets as the centrepiece to its coverage of who will become the next Prime Minister of the UK.
It came as quite a surprise then to see that the studio for the broadcast appeared to be standard television news studio, in fact the same one apparently as used during election night programmes.
Those taking part were sat on what were effectively bar stools, and whilst I can believe that the BBC paid a fair amount of taxpayers money on them, looked shoddy and of poor quality.
From the get-go it was clear that the format which the BBC had opted for was not going to work. The idea of a “Eurovision”-style trip around the country via video-link for the questions from contributors was a good gimmick and that alongside Maitlis’ hosting of the programme, where the only good things about it.
With five powerful male politicians shouting over each other, interrupting each other at will, and drowning out the authority of Maitlis, which her producers seemed to rip from her right at the outset, the whole thing ran rapidly out of control.
The media have not been very kind to the BBC either, with Nick Ferrari roundly slamming the BBC, whilst vindicating Maitlis.
Rory Stewart, one of the candidates in the debate, has also called the debate a “shambles”. Throughout the most part of the debate, Stewart seemed detached and frankly, thoroughly bored as the programme descended into a free-for-all.
To add insult to the BBC’s injuries, it’s questioner from Bristol, Imam Abdullah Patel has been criticised for his anti-Semitic views, including tweeting a graphic suggesting Israel be moved to the middle of the United States of America.
The Imam appeared on BBC Five Live this morning, prompting Nicky Campbell to apologise: “I would like to apologise. We had the Imam from the BBC Tory leadership debate on our programme this morning. His social media comments have been extremely disturbing. We should have checked. We didn’t. I’m sorry.”
The outcome? A complete and utter BBC balls-up of the highest order. The Question? Who is going to take responsibility?