The channel will not show any programmes between 7am and 7pm on 7 May

Channel 4 will shut down E4 for 12 hours on the day of the general election in order to encourage young people to vote.

On 7 May, instead of the usual showings of programmes such as Hollyoaks, How I Met Your Mother or the Big Bang Theory, all programmes will be replaced by 'Darren', the man in charge of making sure "E4 is switched off".

As part of the campaign for young voters, Darren will keep the channel switched off between 7am and 7pm.

The campaign, the first time a channel has shut down its operations to encourage its audience to vote, will feature an advert which will be promoted across all of Channel 4's stations from 22 April.

A voiceover asks Darren: "How many times have you missed life-changing events because you wanted to watch your favourite show?

"May 7 is election day and Darren is going to turn E4 off so you might as well go and vote. You won't forget will you Darren?"

Dan Brooke, Channel 4's chief marketing and communications officer, said: "Less than half of under-25s voted at the last election so we've engaged the most powerful weapon that we have at our disposal to try and boost that number – switching off their favourite TV channel for the day."

E4 is the most watched digital channel for 16 to 34-years-olds in the UK, attracting a 5.2% share of the demographic.

According to the Cabinet Office, 152,000 aged 25 to 34 and 137,000 under the age of 24 registered to vote on the final day of the deadline.