21 March: I’d only applied the week before to the programme, so was very surprised to get a call on the way to my car to say I’d got a place and what was my first question going to be. In the end, my two questions were: With the imminent arrival of people from Romania and Bulgaria, and pressure on everyone to find a job, why is the government cutting funding for classes in basic English? And In the current climate (meteorological and financial) can the panel give their 3 reasons to be cheerful. Neither were selected but it was a fascinating evening. David Dimbleby, who came to chat to us before the programme, was charming, approachable, and funny. Mrs militant-Tory-keep-those-scroungers-out attached herself to me at the coffee part and then insisted we sat together near the front, where my other neighbour was a very large nineteen year old lad who had his legs spread as wide as they could get and his arm in my face most of the time trying to get on the telly. There were a few like that, I suppose. Before the programme I got chatting to a 16-year-old hoping to study Politics at uni, who was there with his mum and very keen to ask Michael Gove a question – and as far as I could see from watching it on the tv later , had his hand up the entire time, in vain. The warmer was brilliant – a panel made up of audience members, who were sharp and professional and handled the audience’s question with wit and real expertise. One of them, a photogenic student from York University, managed to ask two questions during the actual programme, and later admitted to me in the loos that she was president of the students’ union, which accounted for her confidence (she didn’t say that last bit). Michael Gove, on the panel, was rather odious, and talked over most of the programme – I’m sure there are normally more questions than there were this time from the audience. Although I didn’t get my first question asked, I did try to ask another similar one when it looked like the right opportunity, but I was too slow – worried about sounding blustery and out of my depth, I wrote my question down on paper, and lost the moment.
Marks: 10/10 – even the bus back was an experience, since it only held those of us who’d appeared on the programme. Felt like a special little clique as we each got off.