When is the presidential debate?

The first of three debates takes place at 9pm US time at Hofstra University, New York which means 2am in the UK on Monday night (September 27). Sky and the BBC will offer live coverage as will the US networks, for those with compatible cable and satellite packages, while most major outlets will be offering live streaming of the event and it will be on YouTube and Twitter.

Highlights and re-runs will be shown on the BBC and Sky on Tuesday.

What’s the format?

The debate will be divided into six 15 minute segments focussing on a major topic chosen by the host, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt . Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to questions and then additional time to respond to the other candidate’s response.

Candidates?

Yes. Case you didn't know, there are two of them. Hillary Rodham Clinton, representing the Democrats, and Donald J Trump for the Republicans.

Why should I stay up?

The debate promises to be different. The personal rancour between the two is considerable and everyone’s secretly hoping that Trump will unleash some of his venom on Hilary because that might be the election there and then – if you like that kind of thing, he’s your man; but if you find him a mean misogynist then this might be the deciding moment.

Read more Clinton and Trump prepare for the showdown

In fact, Mrs Clinton’s entire game plan might be to goad Trump into an indiscretion, for which he is famous. Mr Trump’s game plan might simply to be reasonably knowledgeable about world affairs and get in a couple of digs about Mrs Clinton’s stamina. It’s a low bar for the man currently second favourite but moving up surprisingly quickly.

Anything else?

The election is unique in another way – not only for having a woman and a fractious Republican going head to head. Neither candidate is particularly likeable so it is the two evils debating to become the lesser. This is not slick, anodyne politics as we know it.

Can’t make this one. When’s the next one?

October 9 at Washington University, St Louis, Missouri. The vice presidential candidates – Mike Pence and Tim Kaine – go toe-to-toe on October 4 in Virginia.