Scottish Daily Mail
Hours of high-stakes TV drama ends... with cliffhanger
BY the time breakfast was on the hob it was fully 24 hours since I had visited my local polling station. I wondered how the counting was going.
Homes Under the Hammer on BBC1 brought no answers. Nor, by elevenses, was election insight to be found in gardening show Beechgrove Repotted. Not, in fact, until the third cup of coffee, at noon, was the BBC ready to commit to blanket coverage of the election it billed as Scotland’s most important ever. I say blanket coverage. The channel dedicated to the nation, BBC Scotland, remained off air as usual all afternoon. ‘One thing is for sure,’ promised anchorwoman Rebecca Curran in her breathless intro on BBC1, ‘it won’t be dull.’ I felt for her. It was so long since polls had closed that the edge of viewer anticipation was already dulled. Some of us were by now probably struggling to recall who we had voted for. It is the immediacy of TV election reporting which brings the thrills – the buzz of broadcasts cranking into gear at 10pm on polling day, the allnighter crescendo of political drama that keeps sofas occupied and beds empty much longer than planned. Yesterday’s coverage, for reasons outwith the networks’ control, was nothDumfries, ing like that. Nor did it help that, even at last night’s conclusion of multiple hours of Holyrood election coverage, we were still none the wiser on most of the big questions.
WILL there be an overall Nationalist majority? Is Big Eck finally finished? And, crucially, will the poor BBC soul stranded in the rain outside Holyrood find anyone new to talk to?
For five hours she worked through every conceivable combination of the same three party reps – Kezia Dugdale, Ramsey Jones and Andrew Wilson – all of whom told us it was early days yet.
Indeed it was – and still is. Tune in tomorrow, then, for part two of the seemingly interminable results process, hampered by Covid and, in by the counting hall being plunged into darkness by a power cut.
Over on STV, the show did not even get on the road until 4pm. Dickinson’s Real Deal was on while their colleagues on the Beeb were mopping up the early declarations and groping for voting patterns in seats which threw up few.
We learned from the First Minister’s victory speech that she ‘quite likes’ her Glasgow Southside Labour rival Anas Sarwar. Softies such as I lap this stuff up. I quite like him too. I remember giving him my constituency vote.
And, minutes later, we had Miss Curran interviewing the defeated Labour leader. Did Anas quite like Nicola too? Surely that would be her first question. She never asked it.
It is a tough job anchoring chaos, but I fear she may be no David Dimbleby.
On Sky News, occasional visits were made to Adam Boulton’s lonely broadcast pod outside Holyrood as their man in Scotland, James Matthews, educated him on the vagaries of our electoral system. ‘You get two votes in Scotland, is that right?’ asked Mr Boulton. Mr Matthews nodded encouragingly and explained, for the benefit of the presenter, what surely every voter north of the Border already knew. I switched back to Rebecca. This was not the show she had promised us. ‘You have spoken,’ she announced at the top of the programme. ‘Now let’s find out what that verdict is.’ We didn’t, even after an eight-hour viewing investment. But we did find out her channel’s coverage gave by far the fullest account of the fraction of results we now know. We discovered that, for all the attempts to manufacture drama, very little has actually changed.
And we learned, with a sigh, that they’re doing it all over again today.