Despite her absence, or perhaps because of it, May ended up being one of the main topics of conversation.
But although the absent prime minister took a bashing, and the polls will duly show whether that makes any long-term difference to her popularity, her understudy, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, performed extremely well.
Mr Corbyn had also previously refused to take part in a leaders' debate unless the PM also took part. "She might be outside your house sizing it up to pay for your social care".
"You've seen the coalition of chaos in action but in the quiet of the polling booth you have a clear choice - a vote for anyone other than Theresa May is a vote for Corbyn", she said.
The Times reported that the prime minister will ditch the personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, with the view that it is not going down well with voters.
And he ended by asking viewers to change the channel before Ms Rudd could begin her closing remarks.
"How dare you call an election and run away from the debate?"
"The Prime Minister is not here tonight". She can not be bothered. Following the Manchester terror attack, last week's First Minister's Questions had a sombre air, but with just seven days before voters take to the polls, a return to heated debate is expected.
Here's the tweet, which hit a little more than a week before the June 8 election.
The primacy of television in political communication has always been established, but perhaps for the first time a prime minister had more impact - good or bad, depending on which part of the fence you are - by being absent during a live debate.
On immigration, Mr Nuttall said current levels were "unsustainable" and that UKIP would take action to bring the numbers coming into the country under control.
Ms Rudd accused opposition parties of bearing "bluff, bravado and tempting, shiny election promises", but not having the strength to make tough choices needed to balance the books and secure a Brexit agreement.
He asked the Home Secretary: "Have you been to a food bank?"
Mr Corbyn had once again wrong-footed her.
Ms Rudd, put in a tough performance, focusing her fire on Mr Corbyn, but she failed to rebut criticism of the Conservatives' record, particularly on public services and the difficulties faced by those on low incomes.
"If you have a panel of people - one from the governing party (Conservatives) - one from what's regarded as a right wing party (UKIP) and five from broadly left-wing parties, and you give those speakers equal airtime, it means you're giving five slots of airtime to the left-wing parties for every two slots to the not so left-wing parties", he said.