LIVE! The first televised election debate

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Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are preparing to make political history by taking part in Britain’s first ever prime ministerial TV debate, and we will be covering it live here at NewsArse with updates throughout the day.

However, before the televised action begins there are several hours of background preparation to be completed, and we have exclusive access to each of the party’s back stage areas and will seek to bring the exclusive stories as the day unfolds.

The latest updates will be at the top, so if you want to read the time-line in the correct order, we suggest you start at the very bottom and work your way upwards.

[Press refresh to see the latest updates]

22:06 – And finally it is over.  Everyone heads back to Gordon’s dressing room where they open a bottle of Tequila and the real competition begins, with Nick Clegg celebrating by instantly throwing back two shots and squeezing the lemon into his eye.  Cameron looks absolutely shell-shocked.

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21:59 – Nick Clegg reminds everyone that he is really good at remembering people’s names.  Really important for leaders when they’re meeting foreign leaders.  Calling Barack Obama ‘George’ is a faux pas he’d never make.

21:52 – Brown and Clegg are attacking the proposed Tory tax breaks for multi-millionaires, but they seem to forget that millionaires are people too.  They live in a bubble one huge step removed from the reality society, yes, but technically they are definitely people too.

21:48 – Gordon Brown is shaking his head from side to side at the NHS answer given by David Cameron.  As one the nation begins wondering if they should call Churchill Insurance.

21:44 – Nick Clegg employs the excellent comedic device of the ‘callback’ to the lady from Burnley, but once again forgot to make it funny.  Good effort though.

21:35 – POW! Cameron takes the game of Cities-I’ve-been-to Bingo up a notch by mentioning his four visits to Afghanistan. Clegg responds with a visit to Sheffield.  Advantage Cameron.

21:33 – Holy shit! David Cameron warns of the need to for a nuclear deterrent against countries like….China!  Does he know something we don’t?!?

21:32 – Was Nick Clegg attacked by a Trident submarine as a child?  He seems to have a significant aversion to them.

21:26 – A pizza delivery meant I just missed the last couple of minutes.  Returned to find Gordon explaining what a billion is, did I miss a maths lesson?  Hmmm.  Pizza.

21:20 – Let’s be honest.  The kid who asked the education question is already brighter than most teachers in comprehensive schools across the country.

21:14 – Nick Clegg just falls short of making it clear just how hot young people in Scandinavia actually are.

21:09 – Alistair Stewart clarifying an earlier mistake, he’d like it to be known that he couldn’t give a shit when the Welsh and Scottish debates are one.  Thanks Alistair.

21:02 – This is all very interesting, but can Gordon Brown please make it clear who raised him?

21:00 – Nick Clegg makes it clear than his MPs are not as sleazy as those in other parties.  They’re not perfect, but they’re less bad than the alternative.

20:57 – David Cameron winning ‘British City Bingo’ – he has name-dropped more places he has visited than the other two put together.  We think.  We’re not really counting to be honest.  And Gordon Brown makes a joke!  And gets a laugh!!!

20:55 – The entire nation is beginning to wonder if Nick Clegg can actually see them, such is the intensity of his staring at us down the camera lens.  Thousands wishing they’d got dressed.

20:51 – A quick glance at Gordon Brown’s notepad shows that he has been doodling a large picture of a cock and balls.

20:50 – Next question on crime comes from a lady from Burnley whose house is, at this very moment, being burgled.

20:45 – And so it begins, “We should do this” say the opposition  “but, we’re already doing that” says Gordon Brown.  No swears yet, even accidental ones.

20:41 – Revelation!  David Cameron met a black man!!!

20:38 – First question on immigration.  A few hundred thousand Daily Mail readers move to the edge of their seats…

20:33 – And we’re off!  Nick Clegg up first, talking about the third option, but seems to have forgotten the punchline.

20:29 – We’re just a couple of minutes away now, and Alex Salmond has just turned up with his SNP entourage insisting he has the right to gate-crash the event.   He’s been laughed out of the room, obviously, but still, it was nice for the Lib Dems to be able look down at someone for a few minutes.

20:11 – Alistair Campbell is prowling the spin room like the hardened political warhorse he is.  He’s telling anyone that’ll listen that the Tories are ‘a bunch of c*nts’.  We’d forgotten how good at this he is.

20:02 – Interesting.  Lib Dem insiders are telling me that Nick Clegg forgot to set his sky+ box and will therefore not be leaving his dressing room until Coronation Street has finished.

19:01 – There are rumours flying around that Alistair Campbell bribed David Cameron’s make-up girl to paint him like Aunt Sally.  You would think he’d have noticed when she fixed the bonnet to his head.  All I know for certain is that the Tory aides are frantically screaming for an exfoliating facial scrub.

18:41 – Gordon Brown exits his dressing room for the full dress rehearsal in a bright white ‘Saturday Night Fever’ suit – cue several aides rushing to man-handle him back behind closed doors.  If only I had a camera phone…

17:09 – Lots of shouting and cajoling heard in the Lib Dem dressing room.  Also, it sounds like someone just turned the volume up on the Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ – I guess this means the final warm-ups are underway?

16:01 – What appears to be some last minute negotiation going on between Peter Mandelson and William Hague in a side corridor, but upon closer inspection we overhear Mandelson telling Hague, “Yeah? Well your mama’s so fat that when she goes to the cinema she sits next to everybody!”

15:24 – The bookmakers rarely get these things wrong, and now David Cameron is 6/4 favourite to wet himself live on television.  Gordon Brown is at 5/2 to drop the ‘F’ bomb at some stage in the proceedings.  After a huge surge in large bets, bookies are now offering just 14-1, down from 66-1, that Alistair Stewart will refer to Nick Clegg by the correct name all the way through – has someone been watching him rehearse perhaps?

14:50 – John Prescott has been in to give Gordon Brown some last minute debate tips.  They’ve been together in the mirror for about quarter of an hour and Gordon now seems to have perfected the left hand jab and right hand uppercut combination.

14:19 – David Cameron has finally finished disinfecting himself after being forced to shake hands with some working class members of this evening’s audience.  It took him forty three minutes.

13:45 – Awww, that’s sweet.  Nick Clegg goes to get a coffee and a production assistant comes up to him saying that she thought he was great in Love Actually.

13:23 – Gordon is practising his ‘smile’ into the dressing room mirror, and I think his support team must have eaten something that was ‘a bit off’ for lunch, as I can hear lots of vomiting in the background.

12:52 – Panic over.  Someone shows the security guard a photo in today’s Daily Mirror and Nick Clegg is allowed into the building.

12:48 – Tensions mount in the Labour camp as a fierce argument breaks out over which tie makes Gordon’s eye look best.  An effeminate man we don’t recognise is waving his hands around all over the place.

12:10 – The Lib Dems suffer their first set back of the day as Nick Clegg is kept outside for twenty minutes and counting because nobody in the building’s security team recognises him.  They claim his driving licence appears to be a fake.

12:06 – David Cameron has arrived but is sweating profusely, his camera-friendly cycle-to-work plan has backfired since the ‘central Manchester’ hotel he booked online was actually 37 miles from the studio.

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