Last night I attended the BBC Radio 4 programme – Any Questions, which was being broadcast from Gloucester Guildhall. While I listen to the programme quite regularly, it was my first time of seeing it in operation and participating. I found it a very interesting and enjoyable event, the Guildhall performing magnificently as a backdrop to some very interesting debate and while I didn’t get to ask a Question, it was great to be part of the atmosphere.
Having entered the Guildhall, we were invited to submit questions into a big blue box, with a hope that we might be one of the ten questions selected for the programme. With advice on what sort of questions were what they looked for, it was like a red rag to a bull and in went 5 questions from me. Having had a drink at the bar with some friends and seeing the broad range of people coming in, I was anticipating a broad range of opinion.
The Panel was Mark Harper MP, Deborah Meaden, Jeanette Winterson and Baroness Jan Royall, and being hosted by Jonathan Dimbleby. But before they came in, we had a “warm up” with BBC Gloucestershire Breakfast show host, Mark Cummings and he highlighted the joint venture of this episode, and that it was not only destined to go out on BBC Radio 4, but also BBC Radio Gloucestershire which I think is fantastic. As both Mark and Jonathan highlighted, the braking of the Silos is a great idea.
To hear the show in full, have a listen here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qnvb9 for the detail on the questions and individual answers but for me there were quite a few highlights.
I didn’t really know much about Jeanette Winterson, but she was brilliant in providing a “Normal Person” view throughout the programme. Especially her synopsis on Tax Avoidance was great as well as the Living Wage.
Mark Harper did a decent job given the rubbish set of cards he has to play with. He got heckled and boo’d (guilty yr’hon’r) but he did duck and dive quite well even though I disagreed with a lot of what he said.
Jan Royall was very good in getting the message across about the most important issue, namely people. But she was also a voice of reason as an example her position on the Housing question that was raised was very brave but probably reflected the majority opinion in the room.
This is the second time I have seen Deborah Meaden on a political programme (first was BBC QT in November last year) and she did a great job in balancing the view between business and humanity. She also got asked the difficult question about her own salary and the way she handled that was really good, though I think not being a politician, she can always get away with that sort of question much easier.
So all in all, an interesting experience, not only for the debate but also as being part of the crowd, and I hope we do have more of these types of events in Gloucestershire