Books, Film & TV Monday, December 18th

BBC Question Time is coming to Hereford. Here’s some of the best moments in the show’s history.

Books, Film & TV Monday, December 18th

BBC Question Time is coming to Hereford. Here’s some of the best moments in the show’s history.

The country’s flagship political debate show is coming to Hereford on January 18, bringing with it all the hashtag outrage and Dimbleby one-liners you can squeeze in to a Thursday night.

You can apply to be part of the audience here. It’s free, but you will be asked several questions (including which way you voted in the EU referendum) as the producers try to fill the hall with people from across the political spectrum.

We don’t yet know which hall that will be yet – back in 2006, the last show in the county was filmed at the Hereford Leisure Centre – but will update this article when it’s announced. As for the panel, we likely won’t find that out until the week before, and although the show rarely selects local MPs for the fear of a national TV broadcast being hijacked by pothole-talk for 45 minutes, Ross resident Quentin Letts is a pretty frequent guest.

For those unfamiliar with the format, it’s relatively simple. Audience members are asked to submit a question, any question, to be put to a panel of usually four politicians, one newspaper editor and a Billy Bragg-type.

Certified National Treasure David Dimbleby mediates the whole affair, calling on audience members to ask their question and the occasional follow-up. Invariably this involves at least one moment where he squints in to the darkened hall and says something like “Yes you, no not you, the gentleman to the left of you, no the left, in the red jumper – oh it’s a lady, I beg your pardon.”

Once the question has been asked – and it’s usually on some combination of the following, ‘taking back control of our borders’, ‘waiting times at GP surgeries’ and a call for moderate Muslims to condemn something they have absolutely nothing to do with – Dimbleby then conducts the panel like an orchestra, bringing in each of them for their response, occasionally fact-checking some of the more outlandish claims and generally allowing them to engage in the kind of button-downed, thinly-veiled snark-heavy arguments usually reserved for coffee mornings, London cabbies and Christmas dinner tables.

Scroll down for some of the best examples of it all kicking off.

In honesty, Question Time a brilliant piece of programming with an almost-unparalleled legacy of putting politicians right in front of the very people whose lives are affected by their decisions. And making them squirm under the stage lights.

That said, there are few shows with the uncanny ability of leaving everyone watching – regardless of age, religion or Stalinist tendencies – more angry at the end of the show than they were at the start. Follow the #bbcqt hashtag on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean.

If the first eleven-and-a-half months of 2017 were anything to go by, anything could happen between now and January 18th that will take over the main talking points of the Hereford show. But if I had to make an educated guess, the producers will likely steer things towards the following areas;

  1. Brexit. Of course. There may be some developments in negotiations worth discussing, but my money’s on them picking out a ruddy-faced audience member in a slightly-tattered red M&S v-neck to ask about the specific impact Brexit will have on farming.
  2. Defence. And not the type that let Fleetwood score twice in the FA Cup fourth round replay. Specifically spending on defence. Expect platitudes all round about ‘bravery’ and ‘respect for our Armed Forces’ and no real explanation as to which hospitals and schools will see funding cut in order to pay for any vague promises panellists make to ‘ensure we give our soldiers everything they need.’
  3. Wages. With Herefordshire home to a pretty poor average income, and soon an exciting new technical university, expect any politicians Right Of Centre to repeat job creation statistics until they are literally blue in the face, while anyone Left Of Centre will jump on the desk and scream ‘COST OF LIVING’ while swinging their shirt around their head.

And now, to prepare yourself, here are some of the more memorable QT moments from past shows:

1. That Time David Dimbleby Kicked Out An Audience Member

Note: If you get to ask a question, zip it and listen to the answer. Dave ain’t playin’ around.


2.  Russell Brand Goes Full Robin Hood On The Bankers

Like him, hate him, Brand sure can string a sentence together.


3. The Woman Who Confessed To Voting For Brexit Because Of Straight Bananas

Just a reminder, this goes out on national TV. And iPlayer. And if this ladies' co-workers are not still leaving a banana on her desk every day, they've failed. 


4. Eddie Izzard Gets Told To Shut Up 

Amazingly for a panel that included both Izzard and Nigel Farage, it was an audience member who got the last word.


5. Eric Pickles Instructs the Nation On How Hard It Is to Drive To Work Without A Second Home

You can spot the exact moment where he wishes he was in the nearest Harvester.


6. Joey Barton Manages To Make Voting Sound Like 2am In Oceana

He's such a charmer.


7. That Time The BBC Invited A Far Right Politician On And Thought Nothing Bad Would Happen

One reason why Jayda Fransen's still waiting on her invite. 

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