Vintage election nights: the time a painter had to come on screen to extend the Swingometer

I have always remembered the classic moment when, during the BBC general election night TV coverage of 1970, a painter had to be brought on to extend the swingometer. This was because the Conservative swings were unexpectedly high, and the swingometer didn’t go far enough to cover some of them.

In these days of high tech, it is difficult to believe that such a thing happened. Indeed, as I have recalled the incident over the years, I don’t think many people have believed me.

Well, now for the first time I have found footage of the incident, courtesy of the BBC Archive (which itself has been archived). Click here to see Cliff Michelmore introduce Bob McKenzie, the swingometer and the painter.

There is an assortment of election night footage in the archive.

Another clip that caught my eye, is this one of Sue Lawley rounding up the results for London and the South-East in October 1974.

Up until then, BBC Election Night coverage had been a virtually all-male preserve, bar the odd bit of Barbara Castle and secretaries rushing hither and thither in the background with bits of paper.

So, Sue Lawley was a welcome end to the male domination of Election Nights. We knew her well in the West Country, from her time on BBC Spotlight South-West. In fact, she once opened a fete in our Cornish Town. She gave out pieces of cake to the fete-goers. I queued up for some, but when I got to the famous broadcaster (bearing in mind I was ten years old at the time) I was completely speechless. Fortunately, the word drought ended when Ms Lawley said “Do you want some cake?” to which I replied “Yes, please”. This brief exchange has, I believe, given me the right over the years to say that I have “met Sue Lawley”.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in General Election and TV and film.
Advert

One Comment

  • Interestingly no seats at all for the Liberals in London and the South East – despite a vote of 18%! It looks from the map on Wikipedia that the nearest seats to London where the Isle of Ely and the Isle of Wight.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoeB 24th May - 1:27am
    Peter, the former Portugese colony of Macau is one of the wealthiest regions of the world in terms of per capita GDP. It has its...
  • User AvatarGlenn 23rd May - 11:10pm
    Nick Baird I sort of agree, but I associate a lot of the language of identity more with American politics and campus culture than anything...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 23rd May - 9:41pm
    It seems to me there is a sub-text in the idea that 'we should help people in communities to take and use power'. I think...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 23rd May - 9:19pm
    I'm afraid it didn't have the impact of referring to Gordon Brown as Mr. Bean.
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 23rd May - 9:17pm
    @ Richard Underhill "The context could have included the fact that Heath’s predecessor Sir Winston Churchill had offered a Cabinet post to a former Liberal...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd May - 9:05pm
    @ Wlliam Fowler, Governments have complete control over how much they spend – as long as they tax fully to cover the cost of that...