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July 27, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:11am

TalkTV debate ends early after presenter Kate McCann faints on air

By Charlotte Tobitt

Update on Thursday 28 July: A day after the ill-fated debate, McCann hosted news bulletin The News Desk on TalkTV and told viewers she was feeling “a little embarrassed, a little bit bruised, but glad to be back and totally fine.

“It’s not necessarily what any of us expected to happen last night, I don’t think. It was one of those moments that no one can really prepare for and I think both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were pretty shocked by it.”

She said both had agreed to a “rematch” and “hopefully we’ll be able to tie down a date for that”.

The TalkTV debate between Conservative leadership contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss ended early on Tuesday night after presenter Kate McCann fainted live on air.

TalkTV confirmed its political editor McCann was “fine” but upon medical advice the programme, named The Sun‘s Showdown: The Fight for No.10, was cut short.

The debate, being held jointly with The Sun, lasted about half an hour before the incident and was praised online for its format, which saw McCann moderate with audience questions from a panel of Sun readers.

The debate was live from News UK’s new TV studio in Ealing, West London, from which Piers Morgan usually broadcasts his nightly Uncensored show.

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McCann was initially meant to co-host the debate with Sun political editor Harry Cole but he announced on Tuesday he had tested positive for Covid-19 so could not be there. They did prepare the format and questions together, however. Cole said on Tuesday night McCann had been “absolutely bossing it” and he was “very proud”.

What happened to Kate McCann?

At about 6.30pm, as Liz Truss was answering a question about Vladimir Putin and Ukraine, a loud crash could be heard. The leadership contender looked shocked, said “Oh my God” and then left the podium. The channel then went off air, showing a holding message apologising to viewers for the disruption.

According to The Sun, both Truss and Sunak rushed to McCann’s side and kneeled down to check whether she was okay.

TalkTV left viewers wondering what had happened for around 25 minutes before saying in a statement: “For viewers of tonight’s The Sun Showdown, there has been a medical issue. It’s not a security issue and the candidates are okay.”

It later added: “Kate McCann fainted on air tonight and although she is fine, the medical advice was that we shouldn’t continue with the debate. We apologise to our viewers and listeners.”

On Wednesday afternoon McCann tweeted: “Well that wasn’t how last night was supposed to end! Thanks everyone for the lovely messages❤️– I’m fine now – and apologies to @trussliz and @RishiSunak for cutting the debate short. Tonight I’ll be unpicking the debate with some new polling from 7pm ( …yes, sat down!)”

The whole debate has been uploaded to The Sun’s Youtube channel but it cuts out just before the incident occurred.

Who is Kate McCann?

McCann joined TalkTV for its launch in April as political editor, leaving her role as Sky News political correspondent which she had held for four years.

She told Press Gazette in April she was joining TalkTV because she wanted to “rip up all the rules and start again”. She also wanted them to work by the mantra “dare to be different”.

Before moving into broadcast journalism, she was senior political correspondent at The Telegraph for three years and previously spent time as Whitehall correspondent for The Sun, writing about women and social policy for The Guardian, and as a reporter at City AM.

She has been in the lobby of political journalists based at Westminster for more than eight years and did a year as chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery in 2018. McCann told Press Gazette at the time she hoped to to use her chairmanship to get more female voices at press gallery lunches and organise more mentoring for young people.

When is the next Conservative leadership debate?

Both contenders Sunak and Truss tweeted well wishes for McCann after she fainted.

Sunak tweeted: “Good news that you’re already recovering @KateEMcCann. It was a great debate and I look forward to getting grilled by you again shortly!”

And Truss said: “Relieved to hear @KateEMcCann is fine. Really sorry that such a good debate had to end. Look forward to catching up with Kate and the rest of the @TheSun @TalkTV team again soon.”

They are next due to have a head-to-head debate with Sky News on Thursday 4 August at 8pm. The one-hour debate will be hosted by Kay Burley with questions from a studio audience.

Before that, Sunak has agreed to be grilled by Andrew Neil on Channel 4 at 7.30pm on Friday. Truss has so far declined but the channel said the invitation remains open.

The candidates also appeared together in a fiery debate hosted by BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth on Monday.

Picture: Dan Charity/News UK

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