BBC rolls up at Rugby High School for Any Questions?

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POLITICAL debate raged at Rugby High on Friday when the school hosted Radio 4’s Any Questions?.

A group of sixth-formers had won the chance to stage the programme after impressing the BBC with their discussion skills in a five-minute recording last November.

And excitement took hold at the Longrood Road site on Friday as BBC sound trucks were joined by host David Dimbleby and four panellists - schools minister Nick Gibb, shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne, Times associate editor Camilla Cavendish and volunteering expert Sir Stephen Bubb.

Any Questions? is one of radio’s longest-running programmes, having been first broadcast in 1948.

‘Even better than sports day’ - a sixth-former’s view

SIXTH-FORMER Victoria Adelmant was among those who attended the programme. Here’s what she made of it.

BEING one of six winners of the BBC Schools Question Time competition was a proud moment for Rugby High School.

But our prize, hosting Radio 4’s Any Questions, was undoubtedly the highlight of the academic year - even better than sports day.

Students of all ages loitered at the end of the school day, but it was later that evening that a small group of sixth formers and year 11s had the privilege of meeting and working with Jonathan Dimbleby.

We met with the production team, who not only fully explained the procedure, but also inspired us with stories of their career paths into the BBC. I and three other year 13s eagerly volunteered to help choose the questions, while others were assigned roles of escorting the panellists and bringing in the hundreds of slips of paper.

The sorting of the questions was fast-paced, with a constant incoming flow of contributions from our local audience. We all relished the responsibility and were thoroughly amused by questions such as ‘Is Ed Balls an idiot?’

As we drew our conclusions, Jonathan Dimbleby arrived, leaving us rather star-struck. He was friendly, down-to-earth and keen to include us in establishing the final running order: our suggested sequence of questions was very similar to Jonathan’s chosen order. This was more gratifying than achieving even the highest grade in A-level politics.

After a cheeky photo with Jonathan, I headed to my front row seat, as my question happened to have been chosen. There was, at first, some nervousness throughout the audience: we were acutely aware of the million listeners.

But the encouraged audience participation and the humour of the chairman and panellists eased the tension and created a friendly atmosphere. Watching the programme live was rather special too: seeing the panellists’ expressions and reacting ourselves gave Any Questions another dimension.

When the microphone came to me in the last few minutes of the show, I became sure that I would pronounce my own name wrong, cough, or spontaneously lose the ability to read. I previously thought it impossible, but it was more stressful than a German speaking exam. However, the flushed sense of achievement after correctly enunciating just one short sentence on national radio was exhilarating.

Subsequently being asked my own opinion, alongside those of a minister, shadow secretary, a Lord and an associate editor of The Times, was humbling and showed Jonathan’s keenness to voice a student’s opinion.

So I can definitely conclude that every minute was exciting and the whole experience was fulfilling and rewarding. It was an honour and an incredible privilege to be part of such a respected programme. We are incredibly grateful to have been so involved.