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School questions

Ric Bailey | 10:26 UK time, Friday, 26 May 2006

Brave - yes, that's one word for it. Foolhardy, that's another. There's probably a really good reason why Question Time has consistently been the most popular political programme on TV for nearly 27 years - without yet having a member of the public on the panel.

qtime.gifAnyway, it looks like that's about to change, thanks to the teenagers who are helping to produce this year's special Schools Question Time edition in July. The search is on for a young panellist up to the challenge of debating hot political topics with top politicians, maybe the odd celebrity and, of course, fending off a probing Dimbleby.

The would-be panellists will have to use their mobile phones to send a one minute video clip of themselves explaining why they should be the new star of QT. As they have to be aged between 18 and 25, hopefully they won't be as technically challenged as I would be attempting that. The final few shortlisted will then go through a mini "pop-idol" audition to decide who sits in the vacant chair.

We're genuinely a bit apprehensive! Nothing quite like this has been done before - will there be 20 entrants or 20,000? What if there isn't a single one who's up to it? Question Time really is probably the most intimidating of programmes for panellists, as plenty of Cabinet Ministers will tell you.

It is actually invigorating to bring a new generation to such an iconic programme and give them the chance to use its format to engage in impassioned political debate. The students from the four winning schools in this year's challenge are busy planning all aspects of their programme. Our experience of the first couple of years of the competition has been that it produces a real buzz and a freshness which makes for a terrific debate. And maybe this year, it'll launch a bright new political career as well.


  • 1.
  • At 06:03 PM on 26 May 2006,
  • Brian wrote:

Any bright student with real political aspirations will probably be too bright to take part in this - why do what Hague did and give the media clips that can be used against you all your life? (Mind you, the clip of young Bill Clinton shaking JFK's hand didn't do him any harm - not that I'm saying Hague is the British Clinton, of course)

  • 2.
  • At 08:02 PM on 30 May 2006,
  • marko wrote:

What are the main barriers to doing Question Time live?

Instead of a member of the public, you could have someone acting as a mediator between the public and the panel, becoming a virtual public representative, the voice of any email/text/media feedback received during the programme. Would you welcome such a suggestion?

  • 3.
  • At 10:25 AM on 07 Jul 2006,
  • Mark Fresh wrote:

I joined Question Time halfway through last night (06 July) and was thinking that the young guy on it was very good and was impressed with what he was saying. Only at the end did I find out he was a member of the public so please congratulate him for his performance, it was very normal (which is a compliment) unlike the wishy washy politicians. Richard Madeley was good too

  • 4.
  • At 06:08 PM on 22 Aug 2006,
  • tori wrote:

what does p.s.h.e stand for .
it is one of my subjects

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