When are the general election TV debates? Everything you need to know

Ellen Manning
07/07/2015. London, UK. London Mayor BORIS JOHNSON and Labour MP JEREMY CORBYN. A church service held at St Paul's Cathedral In London on the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London which killed 52 civilians and injured over 700 more. Photo credit: Ben Cawthra *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
There are several TV debates - one of which will see Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn go head to head (Picture: PA/Ben Cawthra)

TV debates have become par for the course in the run-up to any election and the December 12 general election is no exception.

A schedule of live debates across several different channels has already been drawn up and will see party leaders go head-to-head on some of the biggest issues faced by the UK.

Televised general election debates started in 2010, with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg clashing in three shows.

In elections since then, the formats have varied and usually result in some kind of controversy over who should be invited to debate whom and with which broadcaster.

(left to right) Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson take part in the BBC Election Debate hosted by BBC news presenter Mishal Husain, as it is broadcast live from Senate House, Cambridge.
Televised election debates have become the norm yet usually cause controversy (Picture: PA)

In 2017, Theresa May refused to take part in a seven-way BBC debate, sending then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd instead.

This December might just be the busiest season of election debates we’ve seen in the UK.

So who’s taking on who, and when?

The Prime Ministerial Debate on ITV - November 19

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are set to go head-to-head in a televised debate broadcast on ITV and hosted by Julie Etchingham.

It will take place on Tuesday, November 19 at 8pm.

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The debate has already sparked controversy after the Liberal Democrats launched a legal challenge against ITV over its decision to exclude Jo Swinson from the debate.

When the broadcaster announced the debate, it said it would hold another programme to allow other parties to comment, as well as another multi-party debate, but Ms Swinson said it was wrong to exclude her.

Question Time Leaders’ Special - November 22

This special Question Time, aired on BBC One, will see leaders from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and SNP take questions from a live audience in Sheffield on Friday, November 22.

As in previous years, there will be a special Question Time featuring the leaders (Picture: PA)
As in previous years, there will be a special Question Time featuring the leaders (Picture: PA)

During the show, chaired by Fiona Bruce, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon will take questions from the audience for 30 minutes.

The BBC has said there are also plans for other Question Time specials, including Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and one of the Green Party co-leaders Sian Berry or Jonathan Bartley.

Sky News Election Debate - November 28

Sky News will hold its election debate on Thursday, November 28.

It has included Jo Swinson, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Corbyn, prompting a complaint from the SNP whose leader Nicola Sturgeon was not invited to take part.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during the SNP general election campaign launch in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain November 8, 2019. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
The SNP has complained that Nicola Sturgeon has not been included in the Sky News debate on November 28 (Picture: Reuters)

BBC Election Debate - November 29

A “seven-way podium debate” between leaders and senior figures from the UK’s major parties will take place on Friday November 29, aired on BBC One.

The debate, which will be held in Cardiff, has been described as including “leaders or senior figures from the seven major GB political parties”.

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BBC Prime Ministerial Debate - December 6

Just days before polling day, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will face each other again for a Prime Ministerial Debate on the BBC in Southampton on Friday, December 6.

Their second showdown, broadcast on BBC One, will be hosted by Nick Robinson.

However, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid Cymru have complained at not being included in the planned Prime Ministerial Debate.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - November 09, 2019: Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson address her party's supporters during Rally for the Future at Battersea Arts Centre on 09 November, 2019 in London, England. Jo Swinson sets out the Liberal Democrats vision to stop Brexit and announces plans to introduce free childcare from 9 months old as the party campaigns for the General Election 2019.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Jo Swinson has criticised a decision to leave her and other party leaders out of a BBC debate, saying the Liberal Democrats are being denied the opportunity to challenge Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit. (Picture: Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson accused the BBC of being “complicit in another establishment stitch-up” because she was not selected to take part in the head-to-head debate.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the BBC’s decision to exclude the party from a key televised election debate is “senseless” and defies democracy.

Plaid Cymru said the decision is “absolutely disgraceful”, with the party’s candidate for the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seat Jonathan Edwards adding: “Whether we’re talking about a blue Brexit or a red one, both Johnson and Corbyn are prepared to throw Wales under the bus.”

READ MORE: How does voting work in a UK general election and what is First Past the Post?

Ms Swinson said: “Millions of people voted to Remain in 2016. After three years of chaos, it is shocking that the Liberal Democrats – the strongest party of Remain – are being denied the opportunity to challenge Johnson and Corbyn on Brexit.”

Boris Johnson, Gisela Stuart, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, David Dimbleby, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady participate in The Great Debate on BBC One, on the EU Referendum in London, Britain June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool
TV debates have become the norm (Picture: REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

Under-30s Question Time special - December 9

The last Question Time special before the election on December 12 will have an audience entirely made up of under-30s in an effort to focus on the younger generation.

Hosted by BBC 5 live’s Emma Barnett, the debate will take place on Monday, December 9, airing at 8.30pm on BBC1, BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 5 Live.

Country Debates

The BBC will also host debates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland featuring the main parties in each country.