The old adage the camera never lies was tested yesterday (Tuesday, May 5) as ITN news anchors battled with the reality of street life in Chester.

TV crews are descending on the city because it is a key battleground in Thursday’s general election but the historic backdrop also looks good on screen.

Video thumbnail, Mark Austin of News at Ten in Chester
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However, Chester’s chocolate box image was almost jeopardised last night as ITN’s Mark Austin presented live from the top of the steps at St Peter’s Church by The Cross. Just a few feet below him, but out of shot, two men appeared worse for wear.

A cordon was put across the bottom of the steps as police officers negotiated with the pair who were loud and unsteady but otherwise harmless with viewers of News at Ten oblivious to the diplomatic exercise in progress.

Austin’s colleague Alastair Stewart had encountered a similar situation prior to the live teatime bulletin.

He wrote online afterwards: ‘We broadcast from near a church that gave food, love and solace to some of life’s less fortunate.’

Stewart said the group had also ‘applied the anaesthetic of alcohol, in significant measure’ and ‘risked ruining’ the broadcast.

“The constabulary were sent for, for advice, they handled it with charm, diplomacy and efficiency. No one was busted, arrested or asked to ‘move along, please’.’

‘I left, as the rain got harder. Those who’d had a drink had already had enough and drifted off’, he continued. ‘Austerity? Welfare cuts? Tax cuts? Europe? I think they just wanted out of the wet and into the warm. I hope they found it.’

Later, during the late night bulletin, one onlooker with a connection to a nearby pub, reported day-to-day issues such as people being sick on the steps and even injecting drugs.

He complained that the police and council did not normally respond as efficiently as they had for the TV crews.

There were no such problems for the BBC Breakfast team who set up in the relatively comfortable surroundings of Chester Racecourse where presenter Louise Minchin and Bill Turnbull broadcast live this morning (Wednesday, May 6) on the final day of the election campaign.