Questionable Time #106

questionable time 106 david dimbleby thats all folks

Good morning Lemmings and as the above picture suggests, changes are afoot around these parts – big changes that mean that this will be my last post-QT write-up for the foreseeable future although not the end of Questionable Time itself. However, before I get stuck into explaining all that, there’s still the matter of last night’s show to contend with. Fear not though– this won’t take long.

It’s almost like they knew this would be my last show…

…And decided to celebrate the good news by engineering an episode specifically designed to irritate me. I mean c’mon – Scotland? No politicians? Only four on the panel? Jesus guys, a carriage clock and some WH Smith’s vouchers would have sufficed – no need to go to all the trouble of putting together a personalised nightmare just for me. But they did. They went to all that trouble and more, going so far as to book a panel that is known by no-one in the whole world ever and in a location primarily associated with gorse and darkness. If that wasn’t bad enough there was also a very cruel raising of hopes when I googled “Ricky Ross” and was delighted to find that we would be spending the evening with ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross – an ex-drugs kingpin from LA and all round ne’er-do-well who was sure to spice things up by recommending which asses caps should be popped in and who exactly should lick a shot. Alas, it was not to be as what we were actually getting was Ricky Ross, frontman of seminal mid-80’s twaddle pedlars Deacon Blue and all round walking haircut. Thanks QT production team! This is the best send off a boy could ever hope for!

Things can only get better, right?

Well, sort of. The lack of politicians made for a really odd atmosphere where the crowd – all geed up with the usual appetite for a damn good blaming – found themselves a little stymied by a lack of anyone to really blame for anything other than Alan Savage, a harried looking man who repeatedly got it in the neck for no lesser crime than simply existing/pointing out that a currency is sort of a helpful thing for a country to have. The others fared better though, what with Scott Hastings doing his best to prop Savage up yet ultimately looking like he’d got lost somewhere between a Rotary Club meeting and the Grandstand studio, Joan Burnie displaying an aptitude for both the having and eating of cakes and Ricky Ross actually turning out to be very good despite occasionally veering a little too close to the Bono/Sting Line and hoping that claiming not be a politician would somehow disguise the fact that he very clearly wants to be a politician.

So yes, it wasn’t as bad as I feared but there was something missing in that the stakes weren’t high enough: No one involved was going to get a bollocking if they messed up, no careers were on the line and as a result it all felt like an end-of-term game of rounders where you’re only allowed to throw underarm rather than the usual bare knuckle brawl that’s driven by fear, malice and reckless ambition.

Then something magical happened…

So there I was, drifting in and out of the show as I sat inches away from the telly, trying to get a shot of a man in the crowd who looked like Central Casting’s go-to guy for any Vietnam Vet related role and feeling vaguely miffed that I was going out with such a whimper. Then the camera fell upon a gentleman of advancing years and a very stiff gait – let’s call him ‘The Highlander’. At first it appeared that we were in for a standard ‘doddery old man in very drawn out response’ offering but a few seconds in things started to get weird: First there was talk of love for both Scotland and the Union – fair enough really – but then his face started contorting into this sort of rolling snarl and an arm came jerking up as he moved on to other, more dramatic subjects. There was talk of dead relatives, the Highland Regiment and then – out of nowhere – “BRITISH ARMY! [Unidentifiable chunter] BRITISH FOREVER! WE WILL NEVER CHANGE! WE WILL KEEP OUR UNION TOGETHER IN THE NAME OF JESUS!”. Lemmings, I could have died with delight. They hadn’t forgotten me! They’d laid this guy on especially in lieu of the carriage clock!

But that wasn’t even the half of it: In a breach of the usual Do Not Give Clearly Unhinged Audience Members A Second Bite Of The Cherry protocol, The Highlander was returned to later in the show and treated us to an extended encore that covered the poor (he’s CONCERNED FOR THEM), showing the losers down at the rugby team what’s what (“WATCH ME!”), and blood (I think he was referring to his own but probably wouldn’t have minded if it was someone else’s either). Basically, it was the single greatest display of frothing randomness I have seen to date and a fitting way to draw the curtains on my Questionable Time career. My sincerest thanks go out to whoever booked the audience this week – you’ve made my year – and should anyone wish to relive the glory of The Highlander’s headlong plunge into the abyss, you can do so here and here.


Ross: 7/10


Hastings: 5/10

(Built of) Brick(s)

Burnie: 6/10

(Is in good) Nick

Savage: 4/10

(Got a lot of) Stick

The Audience: 5/10

(Were) Quick (to have a go at Savage)

The Highlander: 100/10

Tick(s every single box I ever wanted ticking)

And that was that – a victory from the jaws of defeat that has bookended my time here with considerable aplomb.

So that’s nearly it from it – I say ‘nearly’ because I’m hoping to put up a post next Friday that sort of outlines everything I’ve learned about QT over the last 5 years (5 years!) and also I’m hoping that the new management will let me return to do the odd post every now and then. And who is this ‘new management’? Well, I’m delighted to say that regular Questionable Time contributor Elizabeth has been blagged into willing taken on the role as QT Fuhrer and will now be in charge of things around here.

As for me, well I’m moving on to other things – like colourising photographs for cash monies – but I’ve had a hoot doing this and would like to thank all the regular readers for making this little corner of the internet the strange and rather special place it is. Huge thanks also go out to the following: Jalf, Rick, Benry, Kev and Beef for the years of looking on in a bemused fashion, @markinreading for being a clown of note, @dimblebot for services to evil and nefarious scheming, members of the QT production team past and present for aid afforded, Ellen E. Jones at The Independent for taking a massive punt on me, James Corrigan for all the kindness and assistance, Elizabeth and Mike for their outstanding contributions (both past and future), the Ribs-in-Laws/Frere Ribs/Elder Ribs/Step Ribs for the years of support, the Frau Ribs for putting up with me for all this time and most of all to my mum who – believe it or not – has proofread every one of these reports over the years and made up for the fact that I’m a 34-year-old who still struggles to arrange letters into a coherent order. None of this would have been possible without you guys so heartfelt thanks all around.

Right, I’m done. Come back next week if you wish to see what five years of Questionable Timing does to man (it’s not pretty, I can tell you that for free), but if not then thanks for reading and I hope you continue to come back here when Elizabeth takes the helm in September.

so long lemmings


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July 2014

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