General Election TV debates - when are they, how to watch and who is taking part on BBC and ITV

The two party leaders will face off twice in live televised debates ahead of the General Election.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will go head-to-head in their first televised debate today ahead of the General Election. With millions expected to tune in ahead of polling day next month, the Conservative and Labour party leaders will be questioned on matters including foreign policy, immigration, the economy and the environment.

The 70-minute head-to-head on ITV tonight is the first of a number of televised debates, involving all major parties, ahead of polling day on July 4. The BBC will host the final debate just days before the country goes to the polls.

Sunak, whose party is languishing 20 points behind in the polls, has challenged Starmer to debate him every week of this election campaign - but Starmer has so far agreed to two debates before election day. Here's all you need to know about the upcoming General Election TV debates.

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When are the General Election TV debates on ITV and BBC and who will take part?

The first General Election debate between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak will be shown on ITV today, Tuesday, June 4. Sunak v Starmer: The ITV Debate, moderated by news anchor Julie Etchingham, will be broadcast at 9pm on ITV1, ITVX and STV and STV Player.

On June 7 , Mishal Husain will host a BBC debate between the leading figures from the Conservative Party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and Reform UK. Deputy leader Angela Rayner will represent Labour in the BBC's seven-party debate on Friday from 7.30pm to 9pm - with Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt representing the Tories. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will also not be attending, with his deputy Daisy Cooper stepping in.

ITV will host a similar debate involving all the major political parties on June 13 at 8:30pm. Leaders or senior representatives from the seven main political parties will take part. That programme will be followed immediately by The ITV Election Interviews presented by Anushka Asthana at 10.10pm with leaders of the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Reform UK and the Greens invited to take part.

On June 20, a BBC Question Time Leaders' Special will be held in York. Presented by Fiona Bruce, leaders from the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party will answer questions from the studio audience for thirty minutes each. The broadcast starts from 8pm and runs until 10pm.

ITV's Julie Etchingham will host the first head-to-head debate of the General Election today (June 4).
ITV's Julie Etchingham will host the first head-to-head debate of the General Election today (June 4). -Credit:Getty Images

When is the final TV debate before the election?

The last scheduled debate ahead of polling day will take place on June 26 on the BBC. Sophie Raworth will host the final head-to-head between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer between 9pm-10pm. All three BBC debates will air on BBC One, BBC News and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Jonathan Munro, deputy chief executive of BBC News, said: "TV debates have become a key part of elections in the UK, giving voters the chance to hear leaders and senior politicians debate policies and ideas directly with each other, which rarely happens on the campaign trail.

"The BBC brings people together. Providing a shared space for people to debate and discuss is a vital part of our mission, so I’m delighted we’re holding this series of debates and election specials, hosted by such talented presenters."