The 2005 BBC coverage of the general election got 6 million viewers at its height. More people watched Waking the Dead last night. (It was a corker by the way - well worth watching the second episode tonight - Trevor Eve at his finest).
So let's get this all in perspective shall we? It's very easy to get all school boy/pollynerdy about this, but actually not many people were actually up for Portillo in 1997. (And, as a side point, let's face it, on the basis of their lamentably dire coverage of the American election last November, the BBC need to do some re-thinking).
OK, so the audience last time was larger when you look at the whole night and include the other broadcasters. But I would contend that it would be better to delay the whole thing until Saturdays when many people have a day off and could watch it all unfold on the telly.
But, going back to the Sunday Times, all this pollynerdy anally retentive self-righteous outrage has been caused by a will-of-the-wisp of a story. 1 in 4 councils are considering delaying the count until Friday. So what? The whole of Northern Ireland, several South West constituencies, Cumbria, the Highlands and Islands have counted on Friday for donkeys' years anyway. And if you want a decent quality of counting you need to do it properly in the day when people are fresh.
Putting aside council workers, the political volunteers who do the scrutinising and need to be ready for four recounts in some cases, ought to approach their work having had a good night's sleep. If they've done their job properly they should have worked their socks off on the Thursday, so it really is silly wanting everyone to stay up all night. If we're wanting STV we need to be ready for longer, daytime counts, when minds are fresh. The number of people who can still follow a STV count when tired at 3am must number about 0.0000000000000000000001% of the population.
Tradition? Cobblers to tradition, say I. Dimbleby says it would be a "pity". Cobblers to Dimblebore say I.
Anyway, I come back to the words/phrases "considering" and "1 in 4". The BBC reckon 10-25% of councils could count on a Friday next time. Well hold on a cotton picking second, about 10% do it now and have done for years anyway!
Save General Election night? Cobblers, say I.