Lots to enjoy away from ballot boxes

It’s the General Election tomorrow, if you needed any reminding, so how’s TV shaping up to this once-in-five years’ event?

Years ago, elections could be a random thing with unpopular or minority governments going to the country earlier than expected when things got bad or when they wanted a vote of confidence.

This, as older voters may remember, was the case with two polling days in 1974 (February and October) when Labour under Harold Wilson got the keys to No 10 on both occasions.

Nowadays it’s like a mobile phone contract - once you’ve voted/signed up (or not) tomorrow you won’t get another chance to renew or switch until 2020.

All the main channels will be going into overdrive for the next few days, but Channel 4 will be switching to irreverent mode.

So, if you miss Jeremy Paxman’s abrasive style on Newsnight then catch up with him and sharp-witted David Mitchell as they co-host C4’s nine-hour Alternative Election Night starting at 9pm, an hour before the polls close.

Whatever the outcome of the Election, this through-the-night marathon looks like a vote-winner for viewers with exclusive, election-themed editions of Gogglebox and The Last Leg plus a host of guests in the studio and around the country to add comment and comedy to the outcome.

And, as a last-minute warm-up to tomorrow’s voting there’s three not-to-be missed programmes tonight.

The first is Charlie Brooker’s Election Wipe (BBC2), an extended hour-long swipe at politicians and pundits, followed by the final edition of Ballot Monkeys with Ben Miller and Sarah Hadland out on the campaign battlebuses, while for sheer nostalgia don’t miss Unforgettable Election Moments: 60 Years On (ITV1) which raids the film archives to revisit winners and losers over the past six decades.

Away from the ballot boxes, there’s still plenty of choice whether it’s sweet-toothed Gregg Wallace checking up on milk, chocolate and bread in Inside the Factory: How Our Favourite Foods Are Made (BBC2, Tuesday to-Thursday) or Griff Rhys Jones rounding off his Slow Train Through Africa series (ITV1, Friday) in luxurious style en-route to Cape Town on a seven-hour journey aboard The Pride of Africa.

The theme of times past, be they good or bad, are central to three very different programmes running on BBC. Next Tuesday, it’s the third of the four-part 24 Hours In the Past which sees six well-known faces - Ann Widdecombe, Zoe Lucker, Tyger Drew-Honey, Alistair McGowan, Colin Jackson and Miquita Oliver - labouring long and hard Victorian-style.

Then tomorrow there’s double celebration of VE Day 70 -- marking the 70th anniversary of victory over Axis forces in Europe - with live coverage from the Cenotaph in Whitehall on BBC1 while on the Discovery Channel Tony Robinson fronts D-Day to Victory.

Then, at 9pm, BBC2 sets the clock ticking to Britain’s Greatest Generation (BBC2) as men and women, in their 90s and 100s, relive their life stories through two wars and the 1930s recession in this opening chapter entitled Coming of Age.