(BBC News Online)
Being the political anorak I am, one of my favourite television programmes is Question Time, and tonights panel is going to make some interesting viewing.
The panelists will be Jacqui Smith MP, Eric Forth MP, Nick Clegg MP, paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson and novelist Edwina Currie.
On one hand you have the maturity of Tanni Grey-Thompson, versus the acerbic non wit of Eric Forth and the.. Well, what can you say about Edwina Currie?
But that said I sometimes wonder what the producers have in mind when they put some panelists together, as sometimes we seem to get two panelists who come from the same enviroment and have the same love for each other as Bill O'Reilly and Michael Moore.
Take the 25th anniversary of Question Time, when viewers were asked to pick their favourite confrontations between panelists. The winners by a long shot were Ian Hislop and Mary Archer. I actually remember that programme being advertised and was annoyed for having missed it. But did I want to watch it for the mature political debate about the weeks events? No, admittedly I wanted to watch it because Mary Archer is the unrepentant wife of an unrepentant perjurer and liar who have friends in high places within the Conservative Party. The couple have a reputation for vindictive bullying and I wanted to see Hislop, one of the sharpest satirists in the country, bring her down. Another reason is I have never liked them, esp as my parents once went to a dinner reception at the House of Commons some twenty years ago (At which the Archers were present) and were disgusted to see Archer shout at and bully a mild-mannered schoolteacher who calmly criticised some aspect of the Conservative Party's education policy.
Which all in all, admittedly, is not a good enough reason to watch a programme. I am reminded of the Biblical passage, As you judge others, so you will be judged and I do think that seeing those who deserve it brought down is one thing, rubbing their face in the mud to humiliate them is another.
But then Hislop only made a comment once on the programme, in response to a question about trust in politicans. He mentioned Archer and then directly criticised Mary Archer to her face when she attacked him for mentioning her husband.
But that was where he left it, a lesser man might have tried baiting her all evening, but the point was made, and to good effect.
It is true,as Hislop pointed out, that individuals like Archer have helped destroy people's lack of faith in politicans, but in a similar fashion, I hope that Question Time do not sometimes fall under a Jerry Springer-syndrome.