When are the election TV debates for BBC, STV, Channel 4 and Sky? Who will host and will John Swinney feature?

First Minister John Swinney faces being excluded from many of the debates

The general election is in full swing, and with that comes television debates for leaders to make their case to the nation.

Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Ed Davey and John Swinney all hope the format can help see more MPs from their parties elected.

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However, not every party will be invited to the debates, which will take place across a number of stations. But when are the election debates and will the First Minister be able to appear?

Sir Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and John Swinney are all expected to feature in TV debates during the election campaignSir Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and John Swinney are all expected to feature in TV debates during the election campaign
Sir Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and John Swinney are all expected to feature in TV debates during the election campaign

When are the TV debates on BBC, STV, Sky and ITV?

Multiple televised debates have already been scheduled over the next few weeks - and the dates are as follows:

Monday, June 3

When and where: 9pm, STV.

The line-up: SNP leader John Swinney, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, hosted by STV political editor Colin Mackay.

Tuesday, June 4

When and where: 9pm, ITV/STV.

The line-up: UK Conservative leader Rishi Sunak and UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, hosted by Julie Etchingham.

Friday, June 7

When and where: 7.30pm, BBC One.

The line-up: Representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid Cymru and Reform UK, hosted by Mishal Husain.

Tuesday, June 11

When and where: BBC Debate Night, 9pm, BBC One Scotland.

The line-up: SNP leader John Swinney, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, and Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater/Patrick Harvie, hosted by Stephen Jardine.

Thursday, June 13

When and where: 8.30pm, ITV/STV.

The line-up: Representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, SNP, Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid Cymru and Reform UK, hosted by Julie Etchingham.

Thursday, June 20

When and where: Question Time, 8pm, BBC One.

The line-up: UK Conservative leader Rishi Sunak, UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, SNP leader John Swinney, and UK Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, hosted by Fiona Bruce.

Friday, June 21

When and where: 7pm, BBC One Wales

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The line-up: The leaders of the Welsh political parties, hosted by Bethan Rhys Roberts.

Wednesday, June 26

When and where: 9pm, BBC One.

The line-up: UK Conservative leader Rishi Sunak and UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, hosted by Sophie Raworth.

Thursday, June 27

When and where: TBC, BBC One Northern Ireland.

The line-up: The leaders of the Northern Irish political parties, hosted by Tara Mills.

Elsewhere Nick Robinson has invited UK Conservative leader Rishi Sunak, UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, SNP leader John Swinney, UK Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, UK Green Party leader Carla Denyer/Adrian Ramsay and Reform UK leader Richard Tice onto BBC Panorama.

What is the first head-to-head debate between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer?

The first head-to-head debate between the Prime Minister and Labour leader will be broadcast by ITV.

Taking place on June 4 at 9pm, it will be broadcast on ITV1, ITVX and STV and STV Player, and last an hour. It will be moderated by ITV News presenter Julie Etchingham, who also moderated general election debates on ITV in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Michael Jermey, ITV's director of news and current affairs, said: "Millions of viewers value the election debates. They provide a chance to see and hear the party leaders set out their pitch to the country, debate directly with each other and take questions from voters.

"ITV is pleased to be broadcasting the first debate in this year's election campaign.”

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ITV also plans to broadcast an interview programme with other party leaders and a multi-party debate, though a date has yet to be announced.

The Conservative party, sitting 27 points behind in the polls, had called for a record six debates, and branded the Opposition leader “the knight that won’t fight” for declining.

Who will host the election TV debates?

STV political editor Colin Mackay will host the first TV debate in the series, which will air on Monday night on STV. The debate will last for an hour and a half and is expected to cover topics ranging from independence to gender identity and North Sea oil and gas. The debate will include the leaders of the four biggest UK political parties – Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP and the Lib Dems – but not either of the Scottish Greens co-leaders, Patrick Harvie or Lorna Slater.

Other hosts announced for debates across their respective networks include Julie Etchingham (ITV), Mishal Husain, Sophie Raworth and Fiona Bruce (BBC), and Stephen Jardine (BBC Debate Night).

Will John Swinney be in the debates?

The First Minister has insisted he should be invited to take part in all TV debates involving party leaders.

However, Mr Swinney will not feature in the head-to-head debates to air on BBC One and ITV.

Mr Swinney previously said: "I'm very happy to take part in a live UK party leaders' debate – I should do because I lead the third largest party in the UK. As things stand just now, we have been invited to one, but we should be invited to all debates, as I lead the third largest party.

“I think if we're going to have a proper debate, that reflects the breath of opinion in our country, the leader of the third largest party should be at all of these debates, without question."

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What other election broadcasts have been announced?

The BBC announced on Tuesday that Sunday morning political show presenter Kuenssberg and Mastermind host Myrie will take over from previous election night anchor Huw Edwards, who resigned after allegations that he paid a young person for sexually explicit photos.

BBC political editor Chris Mason and newsreader Reeta Chakrabarti will also provide analysis after votes are cast on July 4.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme host Nick Robinson and 5 Live presenter Rachel Burden will front the radio coverage alongside the broadcaster’s chief political correspondent Henry Zeffman.

Jeremy Vine will broadcast from Cardiff with his election swingometer, while Kirsty Wark will be in Glasgow and Andrea Catherwood in Belfast.

Fiona Bruce, Victoria Derbyshire, Naga Munchetty, Nick Watt and Alex Forsyth are among the other BBC faces who will be reporting from key locations around the country.

On Channel 4, former BBC Newsnight host Maitlis will lead coverage alongside the channel’s lead London presenter Guru-Murthy. Maitlis, who left the BBC in 2022 and is known for her Newsnight interview with the Duke of York, co-hosts The News Agents podcast alongside Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall.

She will be joined on the night by The Rest Is Politics podcast hosts Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart, as well as some familiar faces from the reality TV show Gogglebox.

Broadcaster Cathy Newman will present from the Labour and Conservative campaign HQs while Channel 4 News political editor Gary Gibbon will deliver analysis.

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At Sky News, chief presenter Burley will anchor their overnight results programme alongside political editor Beth Rigby, Sunday morning political show presenter Sir Trevor Phillips and data and economics editor Ed Conway.

The following morning, lead politics presenter Sophy Ridge will be live from Westminster to provide updates as the next government is announced.

She will be joined by deputy political editor Sam Coates and Sky News contributor Adam Boulton on the day.

ITV are yet to announce their line-up for the night, but Tom Bradby is expected to lead the coverage after anchoring for the broadcaster at the last election in 2019.

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