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Question Time comes to town

PUBLISHED: 14:18 08 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 March 2010

QUESTION Time came to town for the first time last night as an audience grilled a panel of politicians and media stars.

David Dimbleby was in the chair for the BBC's weekly political programme which came from the Ipswich Corn Exchange.

QUESTION Time came to town for the first time last night as an audience grilled a panel of politicians and media stars.

David Dimbleby was in the chair for the BBC's weekly political programme which came from the Ipswich Corn Exchange.

An audience of 150 local people put questions to the panel of Tory frontbencher, Tim Yeo, Camelot chairman Michael Grade, Labour junior minister, Stephen Twigg, newspaper columnist Janet Daley, and Liberal Democrat MP, Patsy Calton.

The show takes a great deal of preparation – five juggernauts full of technical equipment are necessary before it can be broadcast.

The lynchpin is Mr Dimbleby, a veteran of six general elections and already looking forward to more.

"We've been taking the show around the country for a time now. It is very good because you find that different issues provoke different audiences in different places," he said.

It was the first time it had come to Ipswich – and the interest had been intense.

"We have an audience of 150, but we always find we have about 500 people wanting tickets. I'm afraid we can't satisfy everyone," he said.

As we talked during a break in his preparation for the show, he couldn't resist looking at the paintings hanging on the wall of the Council Chamber in the Town Hall.

"Why do they hang them so high? I can't see them properly and neither can anyone else," he said before returning to the programme.

"We choose the questions in advance – although of course the panel doesn't know what's coming," he said.

"Then we have some supplementaries, and anything can happen."

The show is recorded earlier in the evening, but broadcast "as live" with no editing.

"For a start there is no time to edit it, and anyway if we did that it would lead people to complain that we had left out their question," Mr Dimbleby said.

"We have to record it because there is always a risk that the line could go down – and if it was broadcast live it would be very late for the audience to get home."

During the day he had been catching up on news about Ipswich from The Evening Star – and commented on the Save our Market campaign.

"That's clearly an issue here. Once you've finished that you should start a campaign for the council to bring these paintings down a bit so we can see them properly!" he said.

For Mrs Calton and Mr Twigg it was their first time on the Question Time panel.

"It was something I had been really nervous about beforehand," said Mr Twigg, the deputy leader of the House of Commons.

"But once it got going I enjoyed it enormously - it was really great fun," he said.

Questions covered every subject from the MMR jab to who would win ITV's Pop Idol competition.

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