ITV Leaders Debate

On the 2nd of April 2015, 7 million viewers tuned into ITV 1 to watch 7 party leaders debate live for 2 hours before the general election.

The most important element to consider when lighting the Leaders debate was that each leader was lit in the same way. The first leaders debate was televised in in the US in 1960 and featured John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Before the televised debate, Nixon was ahead in the opinion polls. It was felt that during the debate Nixon looked pale and stressed, whereas Kennedy look relaxed and healthier. The result was that after the debate Kennedy was ahead in the polls and he won the election. I had to ensure that every leader was lit in an identical way.

The Lighting was designed around robust system that would continue to work in the event of a power cut or equipment failure. Each of the leaders was lit by a cluster of key lights that meant that if a lamp blew, we could compensate for this without the viewer noticing. Some of these key lights were controlled by an independent lighting console and powered by a UPS (An uninterruptible power supply). This ensured that even if we had major equipment failure, the debate could continue to be televised.

My virtual model demonstrated that the set would benefit from beams of light coming from the rear of the studio. I wanted to ensure that the camera shots were perfectly clean and it was likely that one of the leaders might not like a “hazy atmosphere”. I agreed with the producer to only use a tiny bit of Haze with the brightest lights that I could find. The result was that we had crystal clear shots, beautiful beams with no visible haze!

The Leaders debate was transmitted from HQ1 at Dock 10 – Mediacity UK and equipment was provided by Dock 10, ELP and Lighting Director Limited.