Watching the General Election on TV? How to nail a night in with David Dimbleby

If pulling an General Election all nighter is on your Thursday-into-Friday to do list, here's a few handy tips to see you through

As the General Election polls close and David Dimbleby reveals his tie choice for the evening, millions of people all over the UK will be doing their best to stay awake for long enough to see who will end up leading the country.

Will it be a new dawn? Will it be a new day? Will it be a new life? Will we be feeling good?

Well unless you've got tomorrow off, you probably will be feeling anything but, with suitcases bigger than the ones being carried in (or out of) 10 Downing Street, depending on how the result goes.

Nevertheless, the idea of burning the midnight oil and plugging into the poll results as they happen is one which more and more of us are embracing as social and 24-hour media combine to make it easier than ever to feel part of the biggest of conversations.

With that in mind, we thought it might be helpful if we pulled together a few tips for anyone planning to pull an election all-nighter. And no, whistles or glow-sticks of any kind will not be required.

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TV timings for the General Election

If you are planning on getting matchsticks out of the cupboard for your eyes and planning an all nighter here are the TV timings you need (in the interests of political fairness we need to point out that there are of course other presenters other than Dimbleby!)

BBC1 - coverage through the night from 9.55pm, naturally hosted by David himself, with Huw Edwards then taking over from 7am.

ITV - coverage from 9.55pm with guests including George Osborne and Ed Balls.

Channel 4 - coverage from 9pm, with Jeremy Paxman at the helm. Guests include David Mitchell and Richard Osman and you can also expect some opinions from the Gogglebox cast.

Sky News - Adam Boulton and Sophy Ridge kick things off at 9pm and of course Kay Burley will be involved too.

Anyway whichever channel you pick, you might want to take some tips from us on how to last the distance, so here goes...

1. The Friday quandary: to take off or not to take off

Part of me always thinks I want to be at work and amongst it the day after an election. When the new chapter starts, I want to be a part of it.

In reality though, anyone who foregoes sleep in the name of watching democracy in action is most likely going to spend Friday in a cranky, crumpled mess - while marinating themselves in coffee and hanging onto a bag of Haribo like a security blanket.

If you’re able to take Friday off at this short notice, do it. Trust me, any smugness you feel while regaling your colleagues at the drama of the 3.30am swing in Blackpool North and Cleveleys will have worn off by 9.22am.

Students and pensioners: as you were. Tell Jeremy, Phil, Holly and the Loose ladies we said ‘hi’.

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2. Pace yourself to stay the course

Yes it’ll be exciting when Washington and Sunderland declare first (we are hoping against hope there are roller skates involved this year...)

And yes there may be a small crescendo of constituencies snapping at their heels to keep up the momentum for a bit.

Sunderland to declare first result in General Election 2017, according to bookies

But make no mistake, the average declaration might be between 11pm and 11.30pm, but we’ll all be digging the dawn (and possibly the graves of some political careers) before we get any conclusions and most likely a lot longer besides.

Slow and steady wins the race... or at least has the chance of staying awake to see if anyone ends up getting the strutting rights to Victory Lane, aka Downing Street.

3. Dress code

Comfort has to be at the centre of any style decisions, unless you’re using the general election as an excuse for a dusk ‘til dawn house party.

Loungewear should be the order of the evening with a side order of slippers and a blanket.

Feel free to co-ordinate your colour scheme with the party of your choice, although the Liberal Democrat supporters among you may want to rethink the canary yellow onesie. There aren’t many who could pull that look off.

4. Provisions

With the possible exception of being a birthing partner during a through-the-night labour on the delivery ward, election night offers the best excuse to set aside any self-imposed dietary limitations and snack your little socks off. ‘Snack’ being the operative word.

A big meal at any point in proceedings could scupper your plans to see the election through to the end.

A policy of eating little and often should be applied across the (cheese) board and you should feel free to (pick ‘n’) mix it up. Crisps are a must, as are the associated dips.

Cheese board
Cheese board

Pizza is always a good telly food while a fruit plate at some point will make you feel better about all the confectionery that has gone before.

Meanwhile if you and other members of your household have wildly differing opinions on how it’s all going to turn out, you’d be wise to have some humble pie in too.

5. Turn your lounge into a multiplex

If you really want to get into the 21st century spirit of #GE2017, we recommend gathering as many screens as you can muster to ensure you keep your swiping fingers on the pulse of this thing (and can pretend you’re solving problems at Houston HQ whenever there’s a lull).

Tellies, tablets, laptops and smart phones should all be employed to keep the rolling TV coverage, twitteratti (see above hashtag), Facebook news feeds and swing-o-meter graphics front and centre in your living room.

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You should also make sure one of the above is sporting some go-to alternatives to flick your attention to when Jeremy Vine and Dimbers have gone for a comfort break.

You’d be surprised at how quickly a 10-minute injection of Friends can buck up the most flagging of spirits. The One With the Hung Parliament is a hoot. Honest.

6. Keep a sense of perspective while all around you are snoring their heads off

It’s 4am and the result of South West Wiltshire has just been declared. This is not cause for sounding the wake up klaxon.

If you’re the only one left watching the results unfold, choose your moments to spread the word very carefully.

7. Manage your expectations

When all the votes are counted and Jeremy Vine’s swing-o-meter has ground to a halt, the chances are on Friday morning, we’ll be nowhere near having a government which will get the royal seal of approval.

Be prepared to feel deflated and a little tearful at the lost sleep you’re never getting back.

And remember. All of the above is pointless if you didn’t cast your vote before settling in for the results show.

So before you go stocking up on cheesy Wotsits, dandelion and burdock and jalapeno hummus (just me?), make sure you visit your polling station - X marks the spot and all that.

Not voting and then watching how the election pans out is like tuning into the lottery when you haven’t put your numbers on. Who does that?

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