by Bill & Ann Woodhouse
Now we know it is set up! We had Any Questions in Sturminster Newton last night and it was interesting the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how they handle it. We had to book in well in advance and were given a postcard sized ticket, perforated in the middle, half of which had space for name and address and question to be asked.
Bill set his question up weeks ahead querying whether the panel enjoyed being governed by unelected apparatchiks from Brussels. Ann set hers up on the day:- “Given the unfavourable publicity the government has received recently do we have an incompetent administration or an unlucky one?”
We had to arrive at 6.45 p.m. for the 8 p.m. programme. We were sent into the bar and reception room together with ballot box into which to post our questions. Artfully placed around and on every surface was an A4 sheet of “POSSIBLE QUESTION TOPICS FOR TONIGHT’S PROGRAMME”, listing 10 questions, mainly those listed by Jonathan Dimbleby in his trail in the R4 Today programme earlier.
We were then let into the theatre for a 45 minute “warm up”, mainly to check sound with us clapping, booing and so on and, we were told, to give Dimbleby and the producer time to select (well actually vet) the questions. Towards the end the producer came on and told us whose questions had been chosen, ten in all, and the front row at the centre of the audience was set aside for the “lucky” few with numbered seats and one’s question printed out nicely for one to read. Ann got in at number 8 but was told only four or six questions were likely to be chosen.
Perhaps not surprisingly the numbers one to six that got in were pretty much as “requested” by the “POSSIBLE QUESTION TOPICS . . . ”
The panel were Nigel Farage, John Redwood, Ben Bradshaw and some excessively stupid journalist from the Guardian, Independent and Red Magazine called Viv Groskop. It was mainly a good humoured exchange by the politicians, with Nigel clearly winning most arguments and most applause. You can listen to the repeat recording at 13.10 this afternoon 7th April.