Debating the debate
It'll all be about the body language and sweaty upper lip, I overheard someone say on the train up to Manchester yesterday afternoon. I hoped not. I was on my way to meet the Tony Livesey team, who were preparing to broadcast a special programme around the first prime ministerial debate, which we brought live to our audience. Sweat doesn't always make great radio. Still, at least they were talking about it.
Tony has a very special relationship with his audience, and last night we invited 30 or so of them along to Dukes 92, a very lively bar in the city centre, to watch the historic TV moment with us. We went on air at 8pm, with John Pienaar providing all the news from so-called spin alley just round the corner.
Perhaps not as much as the leaders themselves, but it's fair to say we were anxious. With all the rules and hype, what if it was dull or an anti-climax?
But as ever, our audience gives us our edge, and as they started to arrive a real sense of anticipation buzzed around the room.
And then they were off. Unlike the TV audience, ours laughed cheered and jeered throughout. And while a few said they'd never missed the ad breaks so much, most were gripped as the three men grappled with health, education and remembering all those fabulous "the time I met" anecdotes.
Within seconds of the debate finishing we'd heard from Peter Mandelson, George Osborne and Vince Cable live in spin alley.
But then it was your turn - and you had plenty to say - on the texts, emails and calls. Our audience with us added a great extra element - debating everything from public sector pay cuts to policing levels to waste in the NHS. Oh, and a little bit on body language too.
And they were as engaged and passionate at five to one in the morning as they had been at five to eight.
Afterwards Tony reminded me this had been his first outside broadcast for 5 live. Some debut!
Hayley Valentine is the Head of News at 5 live
- Tony Livesey is on 5 live Monday to Thursday from 10:30pm to 1am.
- Follow all of 5 live's election coverage with the 5 live election story app.
- The next prime ministerial debates take place on April 22nd and 29th.