Looking ahead to the next prime ministerial debates

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More than 22m people watched any of the three prime ministerial debates that took place in the run up to the election. It's hard to tell what kind of impact the debates had on voting behaviour - voter turnout was up on 2005 from 61.4% in 2005 to 65.1% - but it is clear that the debates engaged viewers.

The success of the debates at this election makes them a very likely feature at the next, so we asked viewers what they thought of the debates.

The key themes that came back were a desire for more grilling of the leaders and a greater degree of audience participation. Many said that they wanted the moderator to be able to respond once the leaders had spoken.

The rigidity of the debate was a slight bugbear for audiences. Just a third thought the programmes were spontaneous or that there were surprising elements in the debate and a significant minority felt the staged responses and tight rules were a weakness of the debate.

Of course the rules of the debate aren't just for the broadcasters to decide - the parties themselves heavily influence this - but we will feed these views into discussions next time round.

Luba Kassova is Head of Audiences, Journalism

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