Entertainment & Arts

E4 will 'shut down' on election day

Darren Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Regular programmes will be replaced by footage of "Darren" in the E4 control room

Channel 4 will shut down E4 on the day of the general election, in a bid to encourage more young people to vote.

Instead of The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, viewers tuning in on 7 May will see "Darren", the man in charge of keeping E4 on air, sitting in the channel's control room.

It is believed to be the first time a UK channel has closed on polling day.

E4 is one of the most popular youth channels on television, reaching 8.7 million 16-34 year olds every month.

Its regular schedule will be suspended from 07:00 BST, when polls open, to 19:00 BST, when the channel will return to normal with Hollyoaks (polling closes at 22:00 BST).

Dan Brooke, Channel 4's chief marketing officer said: "Less than half of under-25s voted at the last election so we've engaged the most powerful weapon that we have at our disposal to try and boost that number - switching off their favourite TV channel for the day."

A pre-election advertising campaign, running on all of Channel 4's stations, will alert viewers to the reason for E4's absence.

The adverts will ask viewers: "How many times have you missed life-changing events because you wanted to watch your favourite show?

"May 7 is election day and Darren is going to turn E4 off so you might as well go and vote. You won't forget will you Darren?"

However, viewers will only be able to use the switch-off as an excuse to vote if they have already registered - and the deadline has already passed.

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption David Mitchell and Jeremy Paxman will broadcast throughout the night as election results come in

Meanwhile, Channel 4 will present an "alternative" to the election night coverage on the BBC and ITV, with a programme co-anchored by Jeremy Paxman and comedian David Mitchell.

Paxman, who left BBC Two's Newsnight last June, said: "Elections matter. But that doesn't mean the coverage has to be dull. I hope there'll be room for both insight and laughter."

David Mitchell added: "Our aim is to keep people watching much later than they intended and we will be judged by the dip in the nation's productivity on Friday 8 May."

The show will also include special election-themed episodes of Gogglebox and The Last Leg.

The BBC's coverage of the election will be anchored by David Dimbleby, while Tom Bradby presides over ITV's election show and Adam Boulton anchors Sky's coverage.

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