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Frequently Asked Questions

Panel

How does Question Time select its panel members?

Each week Question Time aims to select a panel with a broad range of views, knowledge and experience, with panellists who are relevant to the big stories or debates of that week.

How do you decide which political parties are represented on Question Time?

Question Time is rooted in politics and therefore has to achieve fair and appropriate representation from the various political parties across the UK.

This means there will nearly always be a representative from the UK government and the official opposition on the panel.

The panel will also feature representatives from other political parties across the series, taking as our guide the level of electoral support at national level which each party enjoys.

Sometimes parties may be represented by politicians who conspicuously do not support their party leadership – this too will be on a consistent basis.

Why do you have people on who aren’t politicians?

The composition of the panel varies week to week, but across each series there is a range of politicians, journalists, and public figures from the arts, business and elsewhere, to add a variety of perspectives and represent a breadth of viewpoints.

Do the panel know in advance what the questions will be?

No – the first time the panel hear the questions is when the audience member asks them.

Why doesn’t the panel reflect the region they are in by having local politicians on the panel?

Question Time is a national programme which must be relevant to audiences across the UK.

Question Time is broadcast from all round the country to make sure that a broad cross-section of audiences have the chance to take part directly and that a diverse range of British opinion is represented in the studio audience.

Audience members write and ask questions which they feel are relevant to both the local area and of national interest.

Audiences

How are audiences selected for Question Time?

Question Time selects local audiences which reflect a broad range of political views. People apply to be in the audience for Question Time via the website and by phone and producers get in touch to ask questions on their previous voting record and future voting intentions, whether they have party political membership and also how they voted in the EU Referendum. This is to ensure a range of views are represented in the audience. Occasionally, if production staff feel any group or view is under-represented in the applications, they will promote the programme through relevant local media channels to encourage people to apply.

As with the make-up of the panels, Question Time is aiming to achieve due impartiality in the membership of the audience across the series as a whole, rather than being confined to an exact mathematical formula for each programme. However, particular guidelines will apply during election periods to both panels and audiences.

Are the audiences given the questions to ask?

Audience members write and submit questions on the night. The production team chooses questions which represent the most popular topics. Throughout the programme, audience members are also given the opportunity by the chair to ask further spontaneous questions to the panel, or, of course, to make their own comments.

General programme questions

Is it live?

Question Time is usually recorded “as-live” shortly before transmission. The recording is done in a single take, precisely as if it were broadcast live. The first time the panellists hear the questions is when they are asked by the audience; they are never pre-warned.

Is it ever edited?

On very rare occasions some exchanges have to be edited for legal or taste/decency reasons, or if the recording runs over the allotted programme time.