Question time

Thursday 27th October 2011

FRY’S landmark factory in Keynsham closed a few months ago. I recall a student friend working there during the summer holidays, forty years ago.

“I’ll never eat chocolate ever again,” he concluded. There must be many former employees who feel the same about all manner of products.

Not quite so, for me – as yet – with the BBC, though I haven’t owned a television since 1983, find very little of value in its current output, and am unlikely to rush out and buy a set during what’s left of my lifetime.

Question Time seems a good place to start. It has a strong chairman and thousands of regular viewers. I’ve been watching some recent broadcasts on iPlayer, but remain unconvinced. I’d welcome your thoughts, dear reader, on any of the following questions:

1. Is the dramatic theme tune really necessary? If so, why?

2. Does David Dimbleby always wear a tie? If so, why?*

3. Why is the debate arising from each question only allotted a certain amount of time? Often, it seems, the discussion is closed just at the point when it begins to get interesting.

4. Why are the majority of the panellists politicians? Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to have guests who are eager to answer the questions rather than those who are trained in how not to?

5. Why are individuals in the audience who make valid contributions not given more time? Or, indeed, why are there no members of the ‘general public’ on the panel? Do you have to have professional or ‘celebrity’ status to be invited on to the programme? If so, why?

6. Is there not a case to be made for an Answer Time programme – perhaps featuring five audience members meeting over coffee the next day? If not, why not? It would be cheap to make and offer viewers something equivalent to Radio 4’s Any Answers?

7. Does the BBC pay the panellists? If so, why? and how much? and shouldn’t the BBC publish details of what fees and/or expenses are claimed by each participant?

* For further thoughts on the symbolism, here’s what Virgulle makes of it all.

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