David Dimbleby dramatically went head-to-head with Nigel Farage after the Ukip leader claimed that the audience of the opposition leaders' TV debate was "left-wing".

The Eurosceptic firebrand made the remark as he faced Ed Miliband, Nicola Sturgeon, Natalie Bennett and Leanne Wood at the Methodist Central Hall in London, with just weeks to go before the general election on 7 May.

The party leaders were discussing the lack of affordable housing in the UK until the Ukip leader turned on the audience.

"There just seems to be a total lack of comprehension on this panel and indeed amongst this audience, which is a remarkable audience even by the left-wing standards of the BBC. I mean this lot's pretty left-wing, believe me," he said.

But Farage, who is standing in South Thanet, was cut short by the event's host, Dimbleby, who explained that the audience had been independently selected.

"Let me just say one thing: This is an audience that has been carefully chosen, not by the BBC, by an independent polling organisation to represent the balance between all parties," the veteran presenter said.

The host received a loud applause from the audience after the intervention but Dimbleby failed to stop Farage's attack. The Ukip leader added: "The real audience are sitting at home, actually."

The moment was one of the most notable incidents during the hour and a half long event as leaders of Labour, the SNP, Ukip, Plaid Cymru and the Greens battled it out.

The Prime Minister David Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, however, were absent from the debate.

The clash come with just 21 days to go before the election, with Labour one point ahead of the Tories (34% vs 33%), Ukip on 16%, the Liberal Democrats on 8% and the Greens on 4%, according to the latest opinion poll from Panelbase.