Ed Miliband will be hoping to come out on top in the next election television debate, which takes place on Thursday. The Labour leader will be taking part in the BBC Election Debate with four other leaders. The debate will not feature Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservatives) or Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats).

In what some have described as an 'opposition' debate, Miliband will share the stage with UKIP's Nigel Farage, Green's Natalie Bennett, the leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, headed by Leanne Wood.

During the ITV Leaders' Debate two weeks ago, Nicola Sturgeon came out on top in one poll, with Miliband topping another. The SNP have been enjoying a wave of publicity and support over the past month, with one recent opinion poll putting them at 52% in Scotland. If the polls are to be believed, the SNP will hold the balance of power after the election, becoming the third largest party in the UK.

Each of the leaders will deliver an opening statement, answer five questions from a 200-strong audience and then offer a closing statement. The five leaders will be given one minute to answer the question and then ten minutes to debate freely between each other. BBC Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding said: "The party leaders will lay out and debate their alternatives to the policies pursued by the coalition over the past five years."

Question Time host David Dimbleby will moderate the debate.

To ensure fair representation, there will be a special 30 minute programme after the debate which will feature reaction from the Tories, Lib Dems and Northern Ireland's DUP.

Northern Ireland parties have not been included in the main national debates and had threatened legal action to stop the seven-way debate going ahead.

BBC Two's Newsnight will be live from Belfast on Thursday and will speak with all the main Northern Ireland parties.

The final election programme before the nation votes will be on Thursday 30th April, when David Dimbleby returns to front a Question Time special. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg will face questions from the audience but will not appear together on stage.