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Politics

The BBC Election Swingometer Through The Ages

And the rest of the BBC's election coverage, but we know what really matters.

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The BBC's studio for covering the general election is as fancy as you'd expect.

BBC / Jeff Overs
BBC / Jeff Overs

It's even set up a huge map of the UK outside Broadcasting House showing all the constituencies.

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How things have changed. Pictures from the BBC's election archive show that back in 1950, someone in a white coat had to PAINT the results on the wall.

BBC / bbc.co.uk
BBC

The Tories were represented with white and Labour with black because a) this was before colour TV, and b) there weren't any other parties that mattered.

There was also a very lo-fi method of totting up the scores.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

This is from Broadcasting House in 1951.

By 1959 the swingometer had made an appearance – but not quite in the same form you see it today.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

Here is that first swingometer in all its glory.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

This version, from 1964, is a bit more like it.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

In 1966 the studio was still cramped and full of bulky cameras.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

By the '70s, the broadcasts may have been in colour but things were still pretty low-tech.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

And it was clear, even to the BBC, what the main attraction was. By 1979, the swingometer was starring in this photo call alongside Angela Rippon and a fresh-faced David Dimbleby, making his election night debut.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

Come 1983, Peter Snow was experimenting with some *very* early electronic graphics.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

Four years later, and Dimbleby was firmly in charge, with some very '80s-looking graphics behind him.

Love that italic font.
BBC / bbc.co.uk

Love that italic font.

This was the golden age of the election graphic – and of Peter Snow. Here's how they looked in 1992.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

By 1997, the BBC team and the swingometer screen had moved into even more spacious surroundings.

BBC / bbc.co.uk

But it all started to go too far. In 2001, there were floating houses of parliament and all sorts of other digital gadgetry, including "news stairs".

BBC / bbc.co.uk
BBC / bbc.co.uk

And in 2005, someone had the equally bright idea of trebling the swingometer's size.

BBC / Jeff Overs

Then Jeremy Vine took over swingometer duties from Snow, bringing with him some whizzy green-screen graphics.

BBC
BBC

And some really dodgy costumes. Who can forget the time he dressed (and talked) like a cowboy for the 2008 council elections?

vine.co / Via youtube.com

Still, amid all the whizzy graphics, it's good to know that some things remain the same.

Jeff Overs / BBC

Long may he reign as the unofficial king of election night... even though this year is his last.

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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