Dennis Wright's Blog

Time to question Question Time

Posted in General by Dennis Wright on July 6, 2007

My eldest son, Jonathan, was one of the 5 finalists competing to appear as a panellist on the BBC’s popular politics programme “Question Time” presented by David Dimbleby.

This was last Thursday’s show, billed as “School’s Question Time“, an annual special edition where sixth-formers take over the role of producers and one of the five panellists is a student.

Had Jonathan won the final face-off he would have appeared on national TV on a panel alongside Ed Miliband, Davina McCall, Sayeeda Warsi and Douglas Murray. The student spot actually went to 18 year old Charlie Bell who was great on the show. Kudos to Charlie.

All the same it was a wonderful experience for Jonathan and for Naomi and I as his parents.

Jonathan had two full days in London this week as a guest of the BBC, including participating in a mock Question Time chaired by David Dimbleby, by way of an audition, to decide which of the 5 student finalists would make it onto the show. A video of the audition in Question Time format has been posted online by the BBC here.  Watch for Jonathan’s answer to the second question, about the balance to be struck between security and civil liberties.  He’s right.  You have to stick to the fundamental principles you’re fighting for or you’ve already lost.

Along with the other finalists, Jonny was a guest of the BBC for the actual recording of the broadcast show on Thursday evening at Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace, and was allowed to invite two guests of his own. There’s no way Naomi and I were going to miss it.

Actually, I very nearly did miss it. I had been attending meetings in Leeds all day then flew from Leeds Bradford airport to Heathrow. I was lucky to make it alive to Leeds Bradford, having nearly been run off a narrow country lane by a speeding white transit van helping itself to swathes of my side of the road as I was trying to negotiate a corner with a high stone wall to my left. I got through but the nearside wing mirror housing smashed against the wall and the mirror was left dangling by the heater wire and clattering against the car. I stopped, caught my breath, managed to reassemble the battered mirror housing and made it the final 2 miles to the airport.

The flight was delayed nearly an hour due to bad weather. On landing I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington then found the only taxi driver in London who didn’t know where Sloane Terrace was. I told him it was near Sloane Square. As he approached the square I noticed we were just passing Sloane Terrace to our left. There was the big blue BBC outside broadcast van atopped with aerials to rival Jodrell Bank.

By the time I got in to the auditorium they were two thirds of the way through the recording. I found where Naomi and Jonathan were sitting. Naomi had been off work and had been in London most of the day.

This is the best the camera on my phone could do. The back of Naomi’s head is in the foreground.

question time BBC

We enjoyed the VIP buffet that followed the recording and had the opportunity to exchange a few words with David Dimbleby. He comes across as very warm, charming and genial. Jonathan made the most of the opportunity to chat to the celebrities and to network.

The word was that Jonathan had come within a hairsbreadth of being picked. Should he have been chosen for his shot at 60 minutes of fame? It would not be fair of me to question Question Time; the choice was really down to the sixth-form producers. I have the feeling they wanted someone who was a more obvious champion for politically minded youth whereas Jonathan is someone with astute political opinions who just happens to be young. A subtle difference, but Charlie did very well and I wish him all the best.


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  1. […] Hasta la vista, Vista! Vista is on trial and my XP install disk is within easy reach « Well worth the upgrade from Vista to XP Value Added Resellers not recommending Vista » Time to question Question Time July 6th, 2007 This post has been moved here. […]

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