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UK Politics

Do we really need to watch the election in HD? According to Sky News we do

For an election as closely run as this one seems likely to be, a single Swingometer was never going to be enough. So 55 years after the first prototype was introduced to illustrate the change in voting patterns in Southampton Itchen and Southampton Test, the BBC will be deploying three Swingometers to interpret the latest news from the nation's polling stations.

Over at ITN, where Alastair Stewart will be hosting the ITV News election night coverage, an "all-new version of the Swingometer" is promised, along with a "3D House of Commons". The broadcaster, which has secured Ann Widdecombe, John Reid and Paddy Ashdown as guests, will also interpret the results with a "unique DNA fingerprint of Britain", which might be deemed an appropriate gadget by those still smarting over expenses claims by MPs.

Sky News is basing its pitch for your election night attention on the attraction of seeing Adam Boulton, Jeremy Thompson et al strutting their stuff in high definition. Kay Burley will be "tracking" Gordon Brown in "picture-sharp HD", which might concern viewers who thought they saw the Prime Minister sufficiently close up during the recent televised debates. The singer Peter Andre, who recently started crying during a Burley interrogation, might doubt the pleasures of watching her in a format famous for capturing every laughter line and bead of sweat.

The BBC, whose coverage will be hosted by David Dimbleby, is sufficiently worried by the technological competition to be adding its own HD capability. Dimbleby will be joined by Jeremy Paxman and political editor Nick Robinson. Roles have been assigned to Emily Maitlis, Fiona Bruce, Andrew Neil and Jeremy Vine who, as a latter-day Peter Snow, is on Swingometer duty. Channel 4 obviously thought its rivals were taking the whole thing way too seriously and signed up Lauren Laverne, alongside the comedians David Mitchell and Jimmy Carr, to host its Alternative Election Night.

It probably seemed like a good strategy a while ago when the public was jaded by the whole business of politics. Now that the result is on a knife-edge and the electorate has been reinvigorated by television's input into the campaign such a quirky approach doesn't seem so smart.

Charlie Brooker can be expected to introduce some "spiky" comment into the output but Channel 4's coverage of what could be the tightest election in its 28-year history will be interrupted by a Come Dine with Me Election Special, in which Edwina Currie, Brian Paddick, Derek Hatton and Rod Liddle will demonstrate their culinary talents. For those who prefer their election analysis to be free of visual gizmos, radio is the sensible option, with James Naughtie and Carolyn Quinn on Radio 4 in head-to-head competition with the 5 Live team of Victoria Derbyshire and John Pienaar.

Or if you want gadgetry without commentary, the best solution is to visit the caricatures of Mr Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg at slapo meter.com (75 million slaps administered so far) and spend the night handing a virtual beating to the party leader of your choice.