Radio 4's Any Questions for Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 16:12 22 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

HEAVYWEIGHTS from the political world will be on stage at a community centre chosen to host one of the most prestigious programmes on national radio.

HEAVYWEIGHTS from the political world will be on stage at a community centre chosen to host one of the most prestigious programmes on national radio.

Old Felixstowe Community Centre is more used to staging carpet bowls, cubs, brownies and lacemakers' meetings than hot debates on major issues between the country's decision-makers.

But on October 12, it will play host to Radio 4 as the popular station descends for a live broadcast of its long-running Any Questions show from the centre in Ferry Road.

Coincidentally, the date will be the 53rd anniversary of the show, which was first broadcast from Winchester in 1948.

Radio 4 is lining up some well-known faces to take part and the provisional panel to answer and debate the audience's questions is Leader of the House of Commons Robin Cook, former shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe, Lib Dem MP Menzies Campbell, and William Hague's spin doctor Amanda Platell.

Old Felixstowe Community Association (OFCA) chairman Barbara Durrance said the association was thrilled to be staging the event and really looking forward to it.

"We will be able to have an audience of 200 in our main hall for the evening and those coming along will have slips on which to submit their questions for the panel," she said.

"The questions don't apparently all have to be very serious ones on national issues and we are told they will expect some amusing ones, too."

Tickets, which are free, will be offered first to OFCA members and then any remaining will be offered to the public. Details of how to apply will be announced in mid-September.

Felixstowe has been featured on BBC programmes before.

It is believed Any Questions was broadcast once before from the town – from the Spa Pavilion in the 1950s – and more recently the town was featured on Songs of Praise in the 1980s and OFCA's centre was used for Radio Suffolk's Gardeners' Question Time.

Any Questions will be chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, who has hosted the programme since 1987 and also presents Any Answers?

Although the panel is subject to change, the initial line-up is tantalising.

Ann Widdecombe, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, is a controversial character with outspoken views on many topics. She has served in several government departments and more recently has been Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Shadow Home Secretary.

Robin Cook, MP for Livingston, is President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons but from 1997-2001 served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Menzies Campbell, foreign, commonwealth and defence spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, is another colourful character never afraid to air an opinion, while Amanda Platell courted much publicity during the General Election for the Conservatives' publicity campaign which failed to win the popular vote.


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