Many thanks to Jason Chambers (RPE, Level 2) for report the below of his trip - along with 2 fellow RPE students, to a recording of the BBC's Question Time - thanks Jason - and others are welcome to send material they think would be of interest to fellow students to me - and I will blog it!
So, here’s my short report on our adventure into the world of BBC political programming for the masses – in short, Question time!
Held at Cheltenham racecourse (not on the actual track, too dark..) we were greeted with metal detectors and body searches, I assume to make sure we were not carrying any heavy artillery or explosives. Once we passed the military inspection, we sat down for a while, waiting for the first person to dig into the free tea and biscuits. Everyone was looking at the table, keen to finally get something for free from the BBC. I missed the actual moment of the first ‘taker’ but it was impossible to miss the swarm of people heading for PG tips and custard creams once the Taboo of ‘ we can’t be the first’ was broken. We were given some card on which to write two questions we would like asked.
Shortly after we had our biscuits (some more than others, Francis…) David Dimbleby appeared and gave a little talk. He thanked us all for coming, asked the non-men contingent in the audience if they preferred to be called women or ladies (apparently it’s a sore point for the female population all over the country) and then told us how to put our hands up to ask a question. Once that was clear, he disappeared into the ‘studio’ and we all waited with baited breath to be called in. Once called, we made our way down some stairs, eager to get into the studio. Katie, Francis and I were among the first in, but being students chose to sit towards the back in the middle (of course). A guy appeared, I believe he was the director or producer or something or other, and we played make-believe question time for a while, so that the sound engineers could make sure our voices could be heard loud and proud. The audience were asked to put their hands up (they could use their recently learned skill for this part) and express to everyone what they hate the most. But it mustn’t be anything that could come up in the show, so saying Tony Blair or ‘Immigrants’ was out!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largely middle aged white audience expressed their disdain for the usage of the word ‘Kids’, the admittedly dire BBC coverage of the weather (more specifically, the new high tech 3D map) and ‘bad manners’. I realised how privileged some people must be….
Next, those lucky individuals whose questions had been chosen were told – most appeared to have double barrel surnames strangely – and were whisked away somewhere us mere mortals will never be able to see or know.
On to the show! Well, we greeted all the guests we loud and long clapping (that was another skill the BBC kindly taught us) and Mr Dimbleby began. I wont go into the actual questions, as anyone interested enough can still see the show on the BBC website, but to summarise, Kilroy Silk protested his innocence against the ‘monkey’ court of the BBC who fired him some 67 years ago, Boris Johnson struggled to grasp the fact he was actually awake and in a studio filming a TV show, McNulty spoke like a true Labour Robot – he clearly had his own answers and the questions were largely irrelevant. Baroness Bonham-Carter and Shappi Khorsandi were largely anonymous, Khorsandi’s moment in the bright lights was a long lingering facial expression when Kilroy-Silk proclaimed he was not a racist.
All in all, a fun experience I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do in the future. I’m disappointed I didn’t get asked to speak, and I’m even more disappointed I didn’t get to respond to Boris Johnsons ramblings on the Koran (I tried, but luck wasn’t on my side) but nonetheless, I did learn how to raise my hand to ask a question, and clap – two valuable life skills.