Key Points:

TV3 has confirmed it will hold a television debate between Labour leader Helen Clark and National leader John Key as the two leaders prepare for their first head-to-head clash on TV1 tomorrow night.

The pair will have lighter campaign schedules tomorrow as they prepare for the first debate in a series of three that some feel could have an influence on the election result.

Labour insiders are playing down the importance of the debate, this is possibly due to the fact that many expect Miss Clark to outperform Mr Key.

Because of this expectation even an average performance by him could be perceived as a victory.

Miss Clark said in the past she was looking forward to the debates with relish.

Mr Key said he felt the debates were important and he was looking forward to it.

Asked if he had been in training, Mr Key said: "As much as you can be, but it has been a two year training programme."

Television debates have played a crucial part in many election campaigns.

In 2005, former National leader's Don Brash performance against Miss Clark was believed to have influenced important swing voters.

In previous years the leaders of National and Labour have appeared alongside minor party leaders in one or two debates.

But the two leaders' offices agreed to provide a united front against the TV networks in only agreeing to head-to-head debates between them.

This decision led to TV3 cancelling a multi-party debate on October 9.

TVNZ is holding two head-to-head debates and a separate debate for minor party leaders.

TV3's head of news Mark Jennings said TV3 and the leaders had now agreed to a debate on November 3.

The one-hour debate would be run by John Campbell and would have no studio audience.

Jennings said he had toyed with the idea of bringing back "the worm" as a real-time measure of an audience's reaction, but had decided against it.

- NZPA