Inside Sky's Election Campign: Election Night
08/06/17 Reverse order Timestamp format
And we are live... It's the "biggest and best show" promised Sky News boss John Ryley in his message to the team who will be working through the night to get the results first.
Speed is great, says Election Night Editor Nick Phipps, but accuracy is essential. "There's a lot of pressure," he warned, but "most important of all is to ensure that you are right."
With just 50 minutes to go, the teams in the gallery are awaiting the exit poll which will give the first real indication of what we can expect the result to be.
Professor Michael Thrasher is currently at Broadcasting House in London, working with experts from the other broadcasters to crunch the figures from exit poll which will be released at 10pm.
Coming live from over 300 counts is no mean feat, as Valerie Hamill told us. "It's a logistic nightmare" she explained. Tonight Hamill is one of 10 producers who you can see behind anchor Adam Boulton. She's monitoring 15 of the live feeds that you can see on the large screen in the studio.
Lewis Goodall has been up and down the country in the Lewis Lorry, finding out what the story is near you. To find out what he's been up to, visit rts.org.uk/LewisGoodall. Tonight he is live in the Sky News studio, offering insight throughout the night
Only 25 minutes to go until the exit poll which will give the first clear indication of what the story will be tonight. Until then, the broadcasters are limited in what they can talk about on air. This is because the polls are still open, and the coverage could influence the way that people vote. Hence all the talk of dogs - and that adorable hedgehog...
About now, the exit poll result will be being phoned through to Election Night Editor Nick Phipps.
That result is top secret and most people in the building will not know what is shows until it is announced at 10pm. The gallery has been locked and no one is allowed in or out, and the poll results are shared on a strictly need-to-know basis
With under 10 minutes until the Exit Poll is released, the gallery is buzzing as the story of the night begins to make itself clear. For now though, the law says that you and I must remain in the dark, as Sky News' Managing Editor Peter Lowe explains.
*Kay Burley's tip for keeping your energy up through the night: A little bit of something sweet*
For more handy tips on lasting through until the morning comes, try Election veteran Paul Bromley's tried and tested routine
Sky News' Graphics team are behind the bold shots of London Eye, which will go Blue for a predicted Conservative win, red for Labour and white for hung parliament
Sky Election Expert reports: Labour seemed to do better over the day. We believe - but don't know - that turnout is high.
Turnout won't be known until the votes have all been counted.
Before the exit poll, a Conservative win was looking likely, however Editor Nick Phipps was prepared for every eventuality: "We've got sequences ready... that range from a hung parliament scenario through to a Conservative landslide," he told the RTS.
Social media will not predict the result, warned Head of Social Media Rich Evans, but it is interesting...
Sky News is live from the Isle of Wight festival, where festival-goers expressed delight at the exit poll. The Isle of Wight is one of the Sky 250 locations.
The IOW is the former constituency of Conservative Andrew Turner who stood down a few weeks ago. The constituency has been Conservative since 1997.
"Senior Lib Dem source says: "No pacts, no deals, no coalition," reads the Sky News strap-line.
Paul Bromley is the man who tells the story in the lower third. "No two elections are the same. Anything could happen," he told the RTS.
The story through the campaign was the possible loss of Labour seats in the north of England and the Midlands, Lewis Goodall told the RTS. Now the exit poll suggests that the story may have changed. Listen to Lewis in conversation with the RTS about the lessons learned on the road throughout the campaign.
We grabbed a quick chat with Richard Pattison, Manager of News Technology for Sky News who is working behind the scenes to make sure that the Sky 250 project goes live in all 150 locations. When we spoke 146 of those cameras were live.
They have been troubleshooting all day, Pattison reported. In one location a broken cable meant a last minute Tesco Extra trip to pick up the equipment.
The technology that the project uses allows the students in the 150 locations to broadcast over mobile connectivity. From their headquarters in west London, Pattison can measure the connectivity of each of the stream locations - and even see if there's a wifi connection that they can use.
On the ground, all of the students are communicating with the team at HQ on innumerable Slack channels, reporting any problems or breakages, but - jokes Pattison - most of the streams are strong and stable.
For more on the Sky 250 project, read the RTS' interview with Valerie Hamill who oversaw the project.
Don't really understand what an exit poll is? Neither does Twitter, with 'What is an exit poll? being the most tweeted question shortly after 10pm.
Neil Dunwoodie, Sky News' Head of Output explains:
"The exit poll is a thing that broadcasters publish when the polls have closed on election day and the figures on on an exit poll predict the likely outcome based on information that is brought in to the experts from constituencies around the country."
"Having an election she didn't need to have, hasn't paid off for [Theresa May]", says former Shadow Cabinet minister Lucy Powell.
Harry Carr, Head of Sky Data at Sky News says that the data agrees. Prior to the manifesto launch, Theresa May was far ahead of Jeremy Corbyn in approval ratings. Now the gap has narrowed and May - though still leading - has fallen far behind her original position.
Sky's Political Editor Faisal Islam tweeted that turnout may be as high as 70% - a large rise of around 4%. Could this explain the Labour party's unexpectedly strong performance in the exit poll?
Harry Carr, Head of Sky Data, reports that among the young, there is strong support for Jeremy Corbyn. Among those 35-54 approximately 43% support each of the main parties, while among older voters (55+) there is strong support for the Conservatives.
The Darlington constituency has declared and it is a Labour hold. Sky's Political Correspondent Lewis Goodall reports that it was a Conservative target, while Political Editor Faisal Islam tweets that a Conservative coordinator told him the result was "in the bag" three weeks ago.
Goodall concludes: Theresa May's efforts to make this a Brexit election didn't work. "This was supposed to be a realigning election," he says.
For more analysis of the campaign from Lewis, check out the RTS' interview with him.
One of the most asked questions on Google tonight is 'How many votes to win a general election?' Sky's Editor-at-large Adam Boulton explains in a blog for Sky News:
It is a "moment when one party crosses the 326 MPs mark, 50% + 1 giving them an overall majority in parliament."
There are 650 constituencies, and a majority wins the election. Occasionally (as in 2010) neither party reaches the 326 point and a coalition is formed. This is what the exit poll indicates could happen.
The results are coming in thick and fast now, as a large number of constituencies make their declarations. With so many stories happening at once, Election Night Editor relying on his intuition on where to show on screen. He told the RTS how that happens.
“You’re feeling a bit like a massive computer,” he explains. While one part of him is absorbing what is happening on the screens in front of him and in the studio behind him, he is also listening to Sky’s psephology experts Michael Thrasher and Isla Glaister on the talkback panel, and paying attention to what the team monitoring Sky 250 – the broadcaster’s live streams from 250 declarations around the country – is saying.
For more from Nick Phipps, check out his interview with the RTS.
The story of the 2017 General Election campaign was in the north of England, Sky's Head of Politics, Business and Specialist Journalism Esme Wren told the RTS:
“‘why do we keep going to the North East with the Tories?’ It’s because they sense that those seats are vulnerable. They feel confident that they could get such a swing that those seats which would have been unheard of, are all of a sudden in the game.”
However , as the story develops, a number of Tory targets in the region are remaining in Labour hands.
There is laughter in the newsroom as Jeremy Corbyn's high-five goes unreturned in Islington
The election is "turning out to be one of the most remarkable elections I can remember in a very long time," says Kenneth Clarke who has just been reelected in Rushcliffe.
It is far cry from the outlook when May called the election where there was talk of a huge Conservative majority. However, as Election Night Director Jon Bennett reminded the RTS: "The story will change," he predicted. For the director, the most important thing was to "have to have the expertise and analysis and journalism in the right places to tell those stories.”
Editor Nick Phipps agreed, saying "we are covered for even the extremes of eventualities."
Those watching Sky's coverage will notice that much of the science of the show is built in sight of the cameras. The banks of journalists you can see behind Adam Boulton are crunching the data that is coming in from the Sky 250 project and coordinating with the on-screen talent to give them the most up-to-date information.
Putting the backstage centrestage is key to Sky's proposition tonight, says Election Night Director Jon Bennett who has directed every election night that Sky News have done.
“In a very Sky way, we build our technology in sight of the cameras. Behind Adam… and around the studio you will be able to see all the people within the building working on that product,” he says
Labour have kept hold of Sedgewick, Tony Blair's former constituency, despite talk during the campaign that the seat would swing to Conservatives. "I don't personally think that will happen," Lewis Goodall predicted, "but the fact that we're even talking about it" is remarkable.
“When people come here and they go to the news gallery, they are always amazed at how calm it is. Even on election night. It's an incredible hum of action. Everyone is just kind of on it,” says Sky News’ Election Night editor Nick Phipps.
They sit before a huge bank of screens, with feeds coming in from over 300 locations.
“May. OS5” comes a shout from the back of the room. Theresa May has just arrived at the Maidenhead count. Bennett cuts to the Prime Minister as she makes her way into the count, while Phipps warns anchor Adam Boulton about the arrival.
For the first time, the busy tranquillity of the gallery is disrupted as Phipps and the team follow the arrival of the Conservative party leader.
Unsurprisingly May won a clear majority and, as she made her speech, Phipps and Bennett lined up the next shot, taking the action out of Maidenhead and across the country.
“These are times of real change in the United Kingdom,” Sky anchor Adam Boulton told the RTS.
One of the major stories of the night is across the water in Northern Ireland.
“We can see a lot of volatility in the electorate in Northern Ireland as there is elsewhere in the UK, so we expect quite a lot to change there. Bear in mind that their government is stagnated, that there’s a big issue about the border following Brexit.”
With Sky’s election forecast now predicting a hung parliament due to the Conservatives winning an anticipated 315-325 seats, the story in Northern Ireland may be fundamental. The DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) could provide the numbers that the Conservatives would need to reach a majority, should the parties decide to form a coalition.
If you are watching closely on the Sky 250 feeds, you will notice that occasionally a red card will be waved in front of the camera. Valerie Hamill who oversaw the 250 project explains:
"Our stringers on the ground will be flagging up to us [constituencies which are about to declare] in a very high tech way which is waving a red card in front of the camera that we have included in [their] kits"
To learn more about the 250 project, read our interview with Valerie.
When we caught up with Lewis Goodall we spoke about how recent elections have seen a muddying of the traditional two-party system, thanks to the rise of parties like the SNP and UKIP. Unexpectedly, tonight's results are indicating a return to the two-party politics of the 20th century.
While Nicola Sturgeon was being interviewed by Channel 4, the reports came in that former SNP leader Alec Salmond had lost his seat. Current SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon then declined to speak to Sky News.
For the eagle-eyed viewer, you may have spotted a card flash across the screen. That means that a declaration is imminent. It is designed to grab the attention of the gallery.
The RTS team are behind the scenes at Sky News as the broadcaster covers the General Election 2017. Key Sky figures including Adam Boulton and Director of Content Cristina Nicolotti Squires tell us what goes in to covering the election, and give us the inside track on the biggest event of the year.
Head of Sky Data at Sky News, Harry Carr unpacks the key trends in this election.
The electorate is divided along age lines, with older voters favoring the stability promised by the Conservatives, while younger voters lean towards Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party's more inspirational message. In the middle, the demographic is split fairly evenly between Labour and the Conservatives.
These figures are interesting in light of suggestions throughout the campaign that Corbyn's positive message was just not being believed by voters - including young voters. Additionally, in past elections the turnout among young voters has been low. Reports suggest that this is not the case in the 2017 election, with turnout in university and college areas being notably higher than in 2015.
Find out more about the mood around the country during the campaign as Political Correspondent Lewis Goodall talks to the RTS about what he saw.
Louise Hastings, Senior News Editor is leading the team whole are making sure that Sky can follow the story - wherever it's happening. After the shock exit poll was released, Sky's OB vans were on the move to where the story suddenly appeared to be.
"Fleet of foot" was how Sky's Head of Content described the broadcaster, and Hastings agrees.
Theresa May tried to frame this election as a Brexit election, Political Correspondent Lewis Goodall told us, in an effort to grant her a strong mandate in the negotiations with the EU. The Brexit result, and a second referendum, formed a major part of Liberal Democrats' campaign discussion.
However the data shows us that did not work, and higher up the list of voters' priorities were issues like the NHS. The social care U-turn made by the Conservative party early in the campaign proved a major influence on voter behaviour.
Additionally the data showed that the controversial Leaders' debates were unsuccessful in persuading viewers on way or the other, with only 7% of people having their decision effected by what they saw.
Head of Sky Data, Harry Carr leads a team of journalists and mathematicians who use computer models to predict voting behaviour. For more from him, watch our behind the scenes video with key Sky News figures.
With fewer that 20 seats still to be declared, it is now impossible for any party to get an overall majority. Political Correspondent Lewis Goodall reports that this is only the third hung parliament since the war - and the second in seven years.
Thanks to the uncertainty of the result, it will be many hours - days even - until the result is know.
At Sky HQ in west London, the team are reeling from a long and unexpectedly tense election night. Director Jon Bennett was supposed to finish at 6am, having spent the past 14 hours in the studio - although if 2015 is anything to go by he won't be leaving for another few hours. Nick Phipps is with him as they try and tie up any loose ends from the night.
Valerie Hamill is still there - back of shot - behind Adam Boulton with her fellow 250 producers.
Lewis Goodall is on set with Economics Editor Ed Conway and Editor-at-large Adam Conway offering insight into the results as they come in.
Sky's Editor of On-Screen Information Paul Bromley noted that, as special as election shows are for all news broadcasters, for Sky they're both extraordinary and ordinary:
"For us, it is no different to any other day in the sense that we are providing 24-hours of news coverage. We're doing that today, we did it yesterday, we'll do it tomorrow, we'll do it on Saturday and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday. For us it is a special event, it is a special programme, but it is still exactly the same as what Sky News does all the time: providing accurate, fast information from the most reliable sources"
That is all from the RTS live blog behind the scenes at Sky News. It was part of our Inside Sky's Election Campaign series which went behind the scenes at the broadcaster as they covered the biggest story of 2017.
If there's anything you missed, or anything you want to know, tweet us @RTS_media.
This live blog was written by Ed Gove, Deputy Editor of the Royal Television Society.