BBC debating programme Question Time was filmed in Worthing last night – believed to be the first time the show has aired from the town.
Around 100 people were invited to appear in the audience for the momentous occasion, broadcast on BBC One at 10.45pm (Thursday, May 24).
Among them was Worthing’s Michael Cloake, former borough councillor and current West Sussex county councillor for Worthing Pier.
Mr Cloake, who chairs the county council’s children and young people’s services select committee, went armed with a question about the ‘unfairness of the national funding formula for schools in West Sussex’ – but was not selected to pose it to the Question Time Panel.
But what is it like to be in the audience of an iconic, long-running national TV programme?
“The Question Time operation is slick,” Mr Cloake said.
“You arrive at 6pm for coffee before the show and, after being searched, you sit down and write your questions on a postcard.
“The big man himself, David Dimbleby, comes out to introduce the show and chat amongst the audience which was a great way of breaking down any anxiety the audience might be feeling, and he encourages people to really get involved.
“At this point there’s a chance for questions about the show and I got the first question in and broke the ice by asking him a question about his amazing Marvel-inspired tie.”
Each audience member can write up two questions – and as well as schools funding, Mr Cloake submitted one about whether big businesses should be required to provide Changing Places disabled toilets by law.
Before the show is recorded – the show is not live and filming ends shortly before it airs – the panel rehearses a question using volunteer audience members.
The actual panel, journalist Dominic Lawson, Conservative MP Anna Soubry, historian Sarah Churchwell, novelist Lionel Shriver and Labour’s Anneliese Dodds, then take their place.
Mr Cloake said: “We went into a quick-fire unrecorded question with the full line-up to make sure the mikes and cameras are working properly.
“With everyone in the swing of things, the live recording starts and it’s edge of your seat stuff as it’s a one-take record of the whole show and due to finish only minutes before it airs on TV.”
With audience questions chosen before from the written suggestions, topics included railway nationalisation, potential for a snap general election and the NHS.
“It was a shame that some more local issues weren’t discussed, but I am pleased that Worthing got to host the programme as it is another thing that highlights just how important our little town is on the south coast,” Mr Cloake said, who pledged to save his questions for the county council chamber.
“Let’s all write in to Question Time and try to get them back for another round.”
Were you in the audience? Did you watch the show at home?
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