Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boyish Bradby Zaps Dimbleby's Enterprise; Fleet-Footed ITV Host Makes BBC's Captain Kirk Look Staid in Battle of the Broadcasters

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boyish Bradby Zaps Dimbleby's Enterprise; Fleet-Footed ITV Host Makes BBC's Captain Kirk Look Staid in Battle of the Broadcasters

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Curtis

THE battle for the best overnight election coverage among the major broadcasters was, rather surprisingly, won by ITV.

The BBC had the dignified gravitas of David Dimbleby, and Sky the heft of Adam Boulton. But ITV's offering, hosted by the boyishly irrepressible Tom Bradby, was fleet-footed, informal, incisive and engaging, where the other two channels seemed ponderous and staid. Over Channel 4's "alternative" offering with David Mitchell and a near-comatose Jeremy Paxman, we will draw a polite veil.

I suspect it all comes down to the studio sets, and the hugeness of the desks. Dimbleby came across like Captain Kirk at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, firing off capricious queries at Laura Kuenssberg's Lieutenant Uhura and Emily Maitlis's Spock.

He even had an expendable crewman: Andrew Marr, initially sitting beside Amol Rajan, was suddenly replaced by pollster Peter Kellner.

Boulton's set was a Bond villain's lair, in which he peeked inscrutably at banks of TV screens, barked orders at minions, and often showed the audience the back of his head.

Bradby's show, by contrast, was like a good-natured natter in a living room. He had a big desk too but it looked like it could convert into a sofa at any moment. The atmosphere was collegiate. ITV's Allegra Stratton -- who was, apparently, periodically breastfeeding her new baby off-camera -- was given space to speak, where the equally brilliant Kuenssberg on the BBC was often talked over by the men or silenced by a lordly wave from Dimbleby.

Boulton's co-anchor, Sophy Ridge, seemed to be stuck in a box room and Kay Burley was reduced to shouting "Are you gonna resign, Prime Minister?" as Theresa May skedaddled past her in Maidenhead.

Not that Bradby's show wasn't serious. George Osborne, this newspaper's editor, and Ed Balls made a comradely but incisive double act. Robert Peston avoided his usual swoops and whinnies, and coolly assessed the likely replacements for May. As she proved when covering the American presidential election with Bradby, Professor Jane Green can make statistics seem human and fascinating, in a way that completely eludes other experts.

Last night, the usually impeccable Maitlis became so breathless as she charted swings and shifts on her "giant touchscreen loaded with data" that she had a coughing fit at about 5.30am. Jeremy Vine looked like the protagonist in a video game -- Stats Man rather than Pac-Man -- as he capered in front of a CGI House of Commons chamber.

Bradby seemed to get the most interesting collections of newspaper columnists and former special advisers and spin doctors. On a night when talking heads were shuttling from studio to studio, he often seemed to get them early, when they were still fresh, and weren't simply repeating the phrase "it's a Portillo moment" for the 25th time. …

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