Sunday 12 January 2014

"Do ‘Question Time’ audiences need to be quite so hostile?"

It's interesting that Nigel Farage seems to have come to the same conclusion as James Delingpole about the problem with BBC One's Question Time. 

Just as Dellers "totally believes" that the QT team tries its best to ensure that their audiences reflect the political spectrum, so Nige also says (in today's Independent) that he's "not pointing the finger of blame at the QT team" for the peculiar hostility he and other UKIP members so often face from Question Time audiences, and the evident fact that QT audiences generally do not seem to reflect the political spectrum.  

So why are the audiences so unrepresentative-seeming, if the BBC really is trying to make them representative? It's a question we at Is the BBC biased? have tackled several times before - and here we go again! 

Is it that left-wing voters flock to QT recordings and right-wingers don't, despite the QT team's best efforts? 

Is it that Labour, the SWP, and the Left in general stack audiences with their supporters (think Amy Rutland), sneakily, outwitting the QT team's selection process (which seems to be Nigel Farage's best guess)? 

Is it that left-wingers in the audience are just so much more vocal, more bolshy, than the audience's right-wingers? 

Or is it that David Dimbleby is encouraged to pick young, ethnic minority, student and working-class-looking types (under the prompting of the BBC's diversity tsars), thus unintentionally skewing the audience towards the Left? 

What on earth is the reason?

There's definitely a big problem then, but what's the solution? What more can the BBC do?


  1. You have only to spend some time in the left wing twitter world of Owen Jones et al to see how well organised and connected these people are; usually they don't have proper jobs either so it is what they "do". As such there is always a ready made audience for various absurd protest mobs from UK Uncut to the Peoples Assembly against baby eating Etonians. The fact that any such groupule is guaranteed a sympathetic ride in BBC interviews in which obvious political activists are treated as spontaneous representatives of the downtrodden and repressed, also helps create a situation in which such absurdly unrepresentative audiences are created and flourish.

    The answer is simple: far more harm is done by appearing on these programmes and being booed than by simply boycotting them. If the panels simply consist of Polly and her ilk being cheered to the rafters for advocating moonshine that no-one really believes in these shows will get the audiences they deserve.

    The political influence of Question Time is greatly over-estimated in my view. Its a format from the 1970's when most people had very limited actual exposure to politicians in relatively uncontrolled environments. I would say that other than fostering the delusion that the views of Climate alarmists and Palestinian "activists" are popular with public at large (as opposed to students) the only real political function of QT and Any Questions (and Call some Limousine Socialist on Radio 5 Live) is precisely to marginalise the views held by the majority of people by exposing them to ridicule by the new elite - which is also the function of BBC Comedy.

    1. This is spot on. It may seem defeatist but there is no point in appearing on the show to provide an opposing view any more. Just turn it into a big echo chamber - they'd soon lose viewing figures through boredom..

  2. Participants on Question Times are obliged to fill in a detailed questionnaire. In addition, QT wants people who want to ask questions and argue with our panellists rather than just observe. If chosen the audience member must put forward two questions, one, in advance, by email and a further question on arrival at the venue.

    Nothing is random,

    1. Indeed the philosophers tell us nothing is random BUT what you describe is facile box-ticking. Whatever audience vetting is undertaken how might it be that the audiences for Question Time (and other BBC current affairs programmes) are consistently more left wing than the general population?

      I note that you don't rely on the standard BBC line on other allegations of consistent left-wing bias that there are a handful of token conservatives given voice on issue so "across the range" of broadcast material you get it "about right"; because just as there are apparently no comedians available to the BBC the political views of whom are inconsistent with that cadre of hilarity the SWP, so there are no audiences of British people who don't, for example, believe Lady Thatcher to be evil; terrorism to be justified by foreign policy; immigration a benison to nation and the EU an economic and social paradise.


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