'Cardboard cutouts': Viewers confused by ‘awkward’ opening to BBC leadership debate

·Data and Politics News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read

Watch: Viewers confused by ‘awkward’ opening to BBC leadership debate

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss went head to head in a BBC televised debate on Monday night that saw them clash over issues such as taxes, levelling up and the UK's relationship with China.

However, it was the opening of the show that had viewers asking the most questions about the candidates.

The programme opening with a lingering shot of the two candidates standing side by side with smiles fixed on their faces.

Their motionless expressions and statue-like demeanours had viewers asking if the candidates were in fact... cardboard cutouts.

The opening shot of the BBC leadership debate confused viewers, who wondered if the two candidates were cardboard cutouts (BBC)
The opening shot of the BBC leadership debate confused viewers, who wondered if the two candidates were cardboard cutouts (BBC)
Sunak's slight movement as the camera zoomed in revealed that he had not in fact been replaced by a model (BBC)
Sunak's slight movement as the camera zoomed in revealed that he had not in fact been replaced by a model (BBC)

It was only when Sunak moved slightly after the camera zoomed in that people watching the debate realised they were looking at the real thing.

One Twitter user commented: "Genuinely thought the two of them standing there at the start were cardboard cutouts... until Sunak stopped smiling."

Many others asked: "Were they cardboard cutouts?"

Some branded the moment "awkward" and "unsettling".

Twitter users wondered if Sunak and Truss had been replaced by cardboard cutouts (Twitter)
Twitter users wondered if Sunak and Truss had been replaced by cardboard cutouts (Twitter)
Twitter users wondered if Sunak and Truss had been replaced by cardboard cutouts (Twitter)
Social media users all had the same question (Twitter)
Twitter users wondered if Sunak and Truss had been replaced by cardboard cutouts (Twitter)
Some were surprised to find out they had been watching the actual Sunak and Truss (Twitter)
Twitter users wondered if Sunak and Truss had been replaced by cardboard cutouts (Twitter)
It was only when Sunak moved that people realised ihe wasn't made of cardboard (Twitter)

The debate itself saw the leadership hopefuls trash each other's economic plans in a bitter exchange.

Sunak claimed there is “nothing Conservative” about Truss’s tax cutting approach, claiming it would give the party “absolutely no chance” of winning the next election.

Truss in turn suggested her rival would lead the country into a recession.

She accused Sunak of 'project fear' after he suggested her plans could drive interest rates as high as 7%, creating vastly higher mortgage payments for millions of households.

It came after a weekend that saw allies of the two Tory leadership hopefuls trade increasingly personal attacks.

Sunak was accused of "mansplaining" after interrupting his rival numerous times.

After the debate, a spokesman for Truss told The Times: "Rishi Sunak has tonight proven he is not fit for office.

"His aggressive mansplaining and shouty private school behaviour is desperate, unbecoming and is a gift to Labour,"

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