Monday, 2 July 2007

The tale of BBC Question Time, Part 1

The past three weeks have been epic. I roadtripped across seven countries (well, five proper countries plus Monaco and Liechtenstein). Then, I moved out of my flat in Berlin. It took me a day to pack everything, and another day of playing Tetris with my bags and my car boot. By the time I'd wedged three suitcases, two violins, two guitars and two amplifiers into the back of my M├ęgane, there was no space left for that barrel of Duckstein or that case of Almdudler I'd hoped to bring back; oh well. It took a day, a night and a ferry crossing to get home to Altrincham, and then I went into a couple of days' hibernation.

And now I'm back to blogging.

The biggest political story at the moment, of course, is the battle to be the fifth panellist on next week's BBC Question Time. It's the annual Schools Question Time edition, where a group of sixth-formers get to produce an episode of the flagship political programme. This year, they've decided to have a young person, chosen from the general public, taking the final place on their panel.

When they advertised the competition, I decided to have a crack at it. I had to send in a one-minute video clip explaining why I thought I was right for the job. I put my camera on a table, and told it how frustrating Question Time is when the political guests are allowed to get away with question-dodging and waffle; and then I saved the rant and e-mailed it to the BBC.

A week or two later, mid-way through my roadtrip, I was walking along the seafront in Nice when the BBC rang for a phone interview - they wanted to know a bit more about my political views, and to ask me some awkward questions. The poor beach-goers were treated to 20 minutes of watching me pace up and down the promenade, delivering a heartfelt plea for votes at 16 and the eternal damnation of George Galloway.

Four days later, in the middle of a tricky parallel parking manoeuvre outside a youth hostel in Lugano, the phone rang. I stopped the engine, picked up the phone, and was thrilled to hear that I'd made it into the final ten. My video was put up on the BBC site, alongside the videos of the other nine bright-eyed hopefuls, and we were subjected to a public vote, to narrow the field down to five.

At this point, I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who voted for me. I know that a lot of my friends from the blogosphere backed me as the final QT panellist, and I'm very appreciative of all the support, especially to Nich Starling for giving me a massive plug.

It all paid off too, because I had another call from the BBC to say that I've made the final five - so I'll be heading to London this Wednesday to try and clear the last hurdle: a mini-QT in the studio, where I'll have to try and be more telegenic than the other four. Hopefully, hopefully, I'll make it onto the show.

Whatever happens, this story will have a Part 2.


Norfolk Blogger said...

Good luck. I'm pleased to have been of help.

Joe Taylor said...

Almdudler. Fantastic stuff. Why on earth don't they sell it here?

Sorry to hear you didn't get on to the panel - will you still get to ask a question?

Jonny Wright said...

Nope, I'll be in the audience, but I'll be off air, in a part of the theatre that's not on camera. They have to balance the studio audience very carefully, to get a good cross-section, and it apparently messes that up if they suddenly start tacking on losing panel finalists.