The BBC has reluctantly abandoned plans to broadcast this week’s final leadership debate in 3D after accepting that no amount of technology could give the candidates or the proceedings any depth. The corporation’s official line is that the move will save licence payers’ money, but industry insiders say losing the chance to outdo its rivals at ITV and Sky has been ‘a bitter pill to swallow’.
A source says executives were already expressing doubts about the plan to ‘Bring the Leadership Candidates into your Living Room’ on safety grounds. It was felt that some viewers could have been severely traumatised by the sight of leering images of Brown, Cameron and Clegg bulging towards them, while others would have probably tried to attack the images, causing damage and injury.
But what finally sealed the fate of the plan was the realisation that no matter how good the technology, the outcome would not be noticeably different from the standard broadcast. ‘Take Gordon Brown, for example,’ said the programme’s producer. ‘Everything about him is flat: his voice, his character, his ambition, and of course his jokes. You couldn’t make him three dimensional if you tried.
‘David Cameron appears more promising on the surface, but there’s absolutely no depth to him. We’d be able to do something visually with that forehead and nose, like we could with Brown’s ears or Clegg’s chin, but viewers want more than that. A 'big society' sounds good, but people want concrete policies. If they want superficial, they’ve got Simon Cowell or Ant and Dec.’
But what of the surprise winner of the earlier contests, Nick Clegg? ‘Oh, he’s the worst. Totally one dimensional, no substance at all. Audience-handling techniques from lesson one on presentational skills, and policies that occupy a point in space somewhere between those of ‘the old parties’. A point in space? Mm, that’s actually no dimensions at all, isn’t it? You can see what we were up against.’