Making the Debates Happen: a Television Producer’s Perspective



With about half-an-hour to go the 1997 French language leaders’ television debate came to an abrupt and dramatic halt when the moderator fell off her chair into a deep faint. That the dramatic off-camera fall occurred just as Prime Minister Jean Chretien was being challenged with his most politically sensitive question of the campaign added much more tension to the heart-stopping moment.2 Even the carefully planned down-to-the-last-detail Canadian debate system was not ready for this. When Claire Lamarche, the elegant and dynamic television talk show host from Quebec, hit the floor with a thump, everybody froze. None of the five debaters all standing within five meters of the stricken woman went to her aid. Jean-Francois Lepine, the journalist, finished asking his question and told the television audience that Lamarche had fainted. Then there was a call for help.


Prime Minister Party Leader Television News Royal Commission French Language 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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