When is the BBC Question Time election special? How to watch tonight’s debate live

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour party leader and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will lock horns again, with two weeks to go before the election
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour party leader and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will lock horns again, with two weeks to go before the election

The UK’s four largest parties will go head to head once again tonight in a BBC Question Time election special, as the race to July 4 nears its conclusion.

Leaders from the Conservatives, Labour Party, SNP and Liberal Democrats will face two hours of questioning by host Fiona Bruce and a studio audience in York.

Sir Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak, John Swinney and Sir Ed Davey will all be in attendance.

Here is the remaining debate schedule at a glance: 

The first head-to-head debate between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer on June 4 was followed by a seven-way BBC debate June 7, which saw Nigel Farage, Penny Mordaunt and Angela Rayner battle it out alongside four other leading party representatives.

The Labour and Tory party’s leaders featured again in Sky’s The Battle for Number 10 programme on Wednesday June 12.

On June 13, Nigel Farage, Penny Mordaunt and Angela Rayner returned alongside four other party leaders in a second seven-way election debate hosted by ITV. They faced 90 minutes of questioning from Julie Etchingham, the ITV newsreader who oversaw the first debate on June 4, and a live studio audience in Salford, Manchester.

Both ITV and the BBC have hosted debates in an array of formats, giving candidates the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the latest opinion polls.

When is the next general election TV debate?

The BBC will return to host a Question Time special tonight, with leading members of the UK’s four largest parties: the Conservatives, Labour Party, SNP and Liberal Democrats.

Fiona Bruce will lead the broadcast from 8pm to 10pm in York. Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak will be joined by John Swinney and Sir Ed Davey to face questions from members of the public.

Another head to head between Sir Keir and the Conservative leader will follow on June 26, before what is expected to be the final programme of the election campaign, another BBC Question Time special featuring Nigel Farage on June 28 – less than a week before the nation goes to the polls.

What channel are the debates on?

ITV and the BBC have confirmed they will host general election debates over the campaign.

The programmes will be available on BBC1, BBC News and ITV1, as well as live on their streaming platforms BBC Iplayer and ITVX.

For those watching from Scotland, the ITV debates will be on the equivalent channel STV.

ITV also streamed the first debate on June 4 live on their Youtube channel and are expected, along with the BBC, to do the same for the following programmes.

The BBC have also confirmed they will air their debates on local radio.

Sky’s debate will be available to watch on Freeview and can be streamed online at the Sky News website or on social media.

The Telegraph will be providing live coverage of all the debates with expert analysis and reaction.

Question Time special - June 20, 8pm on the BBC

The BBC will return tonight to host a Question Time Leader’s special with representatives of the UK’s four largest parties: the Conservatives, Labour Party, SNP and Liberal Democrats.

Fiona Bruce will lead the broadcast from 8pm to 10pm in York and speak to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak, John Swinney and Sir Ed Davey.

During the programme, each leader will be granted a thirty-minute slot to answer audience questions.

Sunak and Starmer head to head - June 26, 9pm on the BBC

The BBC will host what is likely to be the 2024 election campaign’s final TV debate on Wednesday June 26 – one week before the country will head to the polls.

The programme will be another head to head between Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer only, similar to the ITV debate they took part in on June 4 and hosted by Sophie Raworth, the BBC news presenter.

It will kick off at 9pm and run until 10pm.

Sir Keir agreed to the two head-to-head discussions only and said he would not speak at the larger debates happening on either channel.

Question Time special - June 28, 8pm on the BBC

Following complaints from the leader of Reform after he was not invited to attend the first Question Time special, the broadcaster has announced a second programme on Friday June 28.

The corporation said it has added the second billing to its election coverage to reflect “the fact that it is clear from across a broad range of opinion polls that the support for Reform UK has been growing”.

Mr Farage had demanded a spot on Thursday’s programme after an opinion poll put his party ahead of the Conservatives and has said he is “pleased” with the BBC’s recognition of his party’s growing favour.

The Question Time special will be hosted by Fiona Bruce from 8pm and the Green Party has also been invited to attend.

How many debates will there be before the election?

So far, a total of seven debates will be held in the run-up to the general election on July 4, with three left to go following ITV’s seven-way debate on Thursday June 13.

The debate announcements were confirmed after the Tories had pressed Sir Keir to take part in a record six debates during the six-week election countdown.

Conservative sources had dubbed the opposition leader “the knight that won’t fight” and “Sir Fear Starmer” after he failed to sign up to their weekly debate demand.

Labour headquarters indicated instead that their leader would take part in two head-to-head debates against Mr Sunak, matching what Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn did ahead of the 2019 election.

Will the debates clash with any football fixtures?

There are several clashes between debate timings and football fixtures – an inevitability with the jam-packed TV schedules.

Football fans and politics watchers were torn on June 7, when the BBC’s debate with the seven parties coincided with England’s international warm-up with Iceland on Channel 4.

England will play Denmark this evening – the same day as the BBC’s Question Time Leaders’ Special – but at an earlier kick-off time of 5pm before the election programme at 8pm.

So there is only one BBC clash taking place as the channel managed to avoid competing with the Men’s European Championship fixtures.

There are no more ITV football fixture clashes after the broadcaster moved the England Women’s Euros match with France, which had been due to air on ITV1, to ITV4 as it coincided with Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer’s head to head on June 4.

When is the general election?

The general election will take place on July 4 as the country heads to the polls between 7am and 10pm to have their say over the next prime minister.

It was confirmed by Rishi Sunak in a rain-sodden speech outside of Downing Street on May 22 that the election would happen six weeks later.

Both the Prime Minister and other party leaders have been on the campaign trail since then in a bid to win over voters through measures such as the TV debates.