On a mild summer’s evening, a minibus full of slightly bemused Bootham students waited to set off to the distant realms of Harrogate Ladies’ College, for a filming of BBC Question Time. After a short wait for one college student to locate the large blue bus and three register checks later, we sped off through the school gates and out of familiar territory. Soon after leaving the Bootham grounds we heartily demolished a school packed lunch, only to discover upon our arrival at the grand building of HLC that a table of canapés was laid out in welcoming splendour. Restricted only by the apparent “one plate policy” (presented by knowing catering staff), we filled our plates the largest possible amount and enjoyed delicacies such as cheese and tomato cubes, mini-nachos and (my personal favourite), marshmallows and strawberries on cocktail sticks.
Finally we took our allocated seats amongst well dressed students and politically clued-up members of the general public, and after a pause for all the cameras to be spotted, (and the obligatory photographs to be taken) the panellists appeared with the incredibly cheerful chair alongside them, and the programme began. The questions posed by the audience were diverse, to say the least, from the pros and cons of the AV voting system to “how close to a nuclear power station would the panellists like to live?”; this was one of our own, and unsurprisingly the answer was a unanimous “as far away as possible” from the distinguished members of the panel.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who truly relished the moment when a gutsy member of the general public decided to loudly start her own debate with one of the more senior panellists on the problems with public transport. His handling of the situation was admirable of course, but the moments when she called out to him, in complete disregard to “BBC protocol”, were absolutely magnificent.
Whilst there were many comic moments during our short stay in Harrogate, (such as the poor microphone woman becoming more than a little flustered when confronted with two consecutive questions from opposite sides of the room), the trip had a serious effect on our journey home. As soon as the coach doors were closed, three lively debates began in earnest, and we remained completely preoccupied with these until our eventual arrival back at school. Never before have I seen a group of students become quite so impassioned with politics, and I say it’s an undeniable mark of a truly successful and interesting trip.
Thanks to Sarah Allen for organising this trip for us all – we had a great time.