Friday, 24 June 2016

TV news plays a waiting game with the Europe referendum

It’s tricky, television coverage, without an exit poll. “Patience is our watchword tonight as we wait for a declaration,” says David Dimbleby, in charge at BBC1’s EU Referendum – The Result, which has no results yet. Jeremy Vine strolls along virtual Downing Street, which later will have blue and yellow bars on it, but now is just (oddly) brown.

“I’m going to be scrutably inscrutable,” says Iain Duncan Smith. He doesn’t have an idea. Does Tom Watson know something we don’t know? “No, I haven’t got a clue who’s going to win, David. I’d love to know, but I don’t.”

Some news: 84% turnout in Gibraltar. And in Sunderland they’re counting, counting fast as they always do in Sunderland, though this time they’ve got competition from up the road in Newcastle, a counting north-east derby.

Over on EU: In or Out? on Sky News they have an interview with one of the Sunderland ballot box runners. And anchor Adam Boulton, sadly off the rollercoaster he rode in the promo, says we are “at this stage still in the hands of speculation and rumour”. They do have an Ipsos Mori poll giving remain 54%, but Kate Hoey says she isn’t interested in polls.

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And on ITV’s Referendum Result Live: ITV News Special (ITV) Tom Bradby is apologising to everyone for asking them what they can’t possibly know. Michael Heseltine, who’s at home, says he did meet three people on Thursday who were voting remain. And in Plymouth, the catch – if not the result – is in. And Jim the fisherman says he’s confident of a leave win, even if he doesn’t look it.

But on a momentous and tempestuous night like this, the nation tends to gravitate towards the BBC and the Dimblebys. Plus this might be DD’s last – but then it’s always DD’s last. I wonder if Allegra Stratton and Robert Peston (both excellent in the bits I saw) rue voting leave – for economic reasons – on an occasion like this.

Jeremy Vine is showing off his counting index, a long line of yellow and blue bars, which IDS and Tom Watson are pretending to understand. It does seem to be a very complicated way of looking at what is a very simple vote.

Nigel Farage may have conceded. He may also have unconceded. Here are some first edition newspapers. DD is puzzled by the Sun’s (frankly puzzling) front page. “Polling station chaos, or is it Glastonbury?” he asks. “Maybe it’s just a railway station.”

At last there’s something to talk about. Plus Jeremy can start colouring in his bars and rods. And they’re beginning to make sense, not in a good way for remain. Squeaky bum time.And finally some news from the north-east … not Sunderland though, but Newcastle. Remain but not as remain as predicted. Back in the fridge for the remain champagne, says John Curtice on maths. And it can stay in the fridge when Sunderland eventually comes in – 61% leave.

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