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Gearing up for an election debate

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 12:00 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

In 40 years working as a journalist I have never known an election stuffed so full of leaders' debates. Such is the proliferation that in the newsroom someone will ask: When is the televised debate? And voices cry out in reply: Which one?

Derek Bateman

There's confusion because they could mean the first televised leaders debate with Labour, Tory and the Lib Dems or maybe the second one, or the Scottish one on the economy or The Scottish leaders' debate at the Festival Theatre with all four main parties, in front of a live audience of over a thousand people. Aaaargh!!

The whole business has become like an extended tv show, if you like that kind of thing. But there is an antidote and it's called the wireless.

In addition to the leaders being questioned on individual programme strands like Call Kaye or Good Morning Scotland, Radio Scotland is staging " piggyback" programmes in which you can hear a radio version of the televised debates with Scottish politicians and then immediately afterwards listen to a live studio discussion with a panel of commentators chaired by me.

That way you get a novel experience...everyone says you form a different impression by listening, not watching...and are then drawn into our exchange of opinions and ideas with experienced journalists like Colin Mackay, Fiona Ross and Angus Macleod. The whole thing starts at 10pm and ends two hours later after which we hope you will have been entertained and you maybe even have learned something to your advantage.

It may encourage you to join us on election night when our team will come on air as soon as the polls close and will deliver you into the hands of GMS at 6am the next morning. By then we might know who will lead Britain although I fear an uncertain outcome will mean the plethora of televised debates will be replaced by days of closed-session talks between some of the same leaders who fill our screens today.

Derek Bateman is a senior broadcast journalist for BBC Scotland News & Current Affairs and presents Newsweek Scotland and The Election 2010 for BBC Radio Scotland.

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