Last night my wife and I were fortunate to be accepted to join the audience for Questiontime at the RAF museum.
On arrival at the magnificent RAF museum (no matter how many times I have been there I am in constant awe, we were checked in, security banded and left to have coffee/tea whilst writing our questions which would “blow the panel, audience and nation away”
Whilst chatting with fellow audience members, David Dimbleby popped his head up over the studio seating and gave us a little talk on how it all works, what we should expect and a little bit about what we should do and say. He was absolutely charming, easy and humorous, whilst explaining that it was OUR show.
After being seated, the technical team got to work. The finest details being covered. Were the microphone pole handlers in the right place after the director had agreed whose questions were going to be taken? Did the pole reach better from the right or left. The questioners were then looked at standing for the cameras. Once everyone had noted to the millimetre where each one was, they were taken off for an extra briefing or a champagne celebration to mark their success at being chosen. Further checks by the cameras and director to ensure that audience members weren’t blocking each other from view, if yes, they were switched so that everyone was in shot, no matter how large of small.
Five members of the audience were chosen to sit in the places of the actual panellists. This was to check microphones, light, seat heights etc. It was meant to be random choosing, though I do believe there was a little skulduggery as the chosen were 4 bright young people and one “more mature”.
They looked like politics students from a local university and took their positions very seriously, adlibbing superbly. David Dimbleby’s stand-in was the floor manager. He too was fun, could even make it as a comedy show panellist. The audience and stand-ins ran a mock questions answers debate. It was possibly better than the real show. Perhaps the BBC could run a “junior” Questiontime where young people could be the panel and the audience would be young and older?
Once the technical elements were covered, David Dimbleby led the panellists out, introduced them and for about 10 minutes of banter, with his smooth, experienced handling of the proceedings, we were off.
The first question is not televised; it is a jump-starter for everyone to be picture ready. And we were, (no surprise).
The 60 minutes did go fast, we were forewarned that it would. People engaged well. The topics were a little dated (well in a world where 10 days cram as much political history as 10 years used to), it was Brexit, Scotland, Labour Party disarray and of course, Donald.
The audience was well educated and a mix of older and young, however my wife and I would have liked to have discussed more about the horrendous sights we see in Aleppo, Putin’s flexing of Russian muscles or how we are starting to see our lives being affected by Brexit. The uncertainty, the price rises, the trashing of our currency. These are real people issues, not when will the government announce each step of their plans to the opposition (other EU governments) in exit negotiations.
An interesting evening, even if nothing was resolved. Thanks BBC for letting us be a small part of it and for the approx. 10 seconds of fame by having the cameras point at us.