Posts Tagged 'Anthony Horowitz'

Questionable Time #112


qt 112

Good morrow lemmings and a very Happy Halloween! We’re in the Wild West this week – Taunton, that is, but I don’t see any cool zombie cowboys roaming around (or even any sheep farmers). Later this evening my house will inevitably get mobbed by screaming children, so let’s enjoy a moment of calm before the storm…or not, because this is Questionable Time, Questionable Time night, and no-one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike.

I also heard hemp makes great shampoo

The first question is appropriately scary, at least if you’re a politician: drug legalisation! Caroline Lucas has an open goal today, what with Labour imploding in Scotland, faced against a Tory ex-Cabinet minister with an obsession with badgers moving goalposts, some random Lib Dem and some other guy who’s written a series of good children’s books at least. Not to mention the Beeb refusing to put the Greens in the Leaders’ debates because nyeh nyeh pfffthblflfbh. Sadly, none of these points actually come up on the show. She could have raised them herself, of course, but that would just be gauche.

So, the Green mean protesting machine is up to bat, this being one of her specialist subjects (and who knows, it might get her votes from the stoner demographic, if they can manage to lift themselves out of their Dorito nests to get to the polling station). Incredibly, she’s wearing not one but two paper flowers, one being a #swaggy white peace poppy. Whatever your view on the gratuitous use of poppies, surely you must agree that’s a pretty swagalicious flimsy flower thing. Anyway, Caroline wants the personal use of drugs legalised and isn’t a fan of Dave and co sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming “JUST SAY NO! JUST SAY NO!”

Owen Paterson, who wants to position himself as Caroline’s nemesis even though she probably wouldn’t lower herself to that level, rattles off some statistics. Dimbles has already mentioned he was sacked (not reshuffled, sacked – damn Dimbleby, that’s cold) from Cabinet and Owen is extremely eager to play the martyr figure in this edition. If there’s a question about wind farms, it’ll happen. At the moment, though, he’s bombarding the panel with facts and figures until they all die of an overdose.

Now for the appearance of the man with a face like a loaf of bread: Tristram Hunt! Wearing the exact same tie as Owen. Worrying. He’s a shower of charisma as usual: “this is an interesting piece of work”, he drones, and shakes his head at how bad the drug problem in prisons is and rounds up by concluding that Labour saved everything. I think. I’ve already forgotten what he said. ‘Yeah, the poors can’t handle it’, Owen nods along. Tristram and Loaf-face are performing a nice little double act here. Ooh yeah baby, you be the bread…I’ll be the baker.

Then Baroness Kramer interjects that we should be targeting the traffickers and kingpins, which is a sensible if blindingly obvious point. Similarly Anthony Horowitz points out the cost to the state from drug-related offences that could be more easily tackled with better treatment in a different system. Woah, things are getting a little too smart around here! Can’t have that. Time to descend into anarchy again.

Can’t pay, won’t pay

Next question! Should Britain pay up? Nope, we’re broke! Seems like that’s really the case, as there’s a lot of shrieking about how unfair the whole situation and that the poor deprived little UK needs that money to buy jumbo sausage rolls at Greggs. Tristram has the explanation, of course: Dave shouldn’t have thrown all those darn wobblies. Now you’ve broken all the posh china and the EU wants us to pay them back. The ‘No Daves Club’ strikes again. Incidentally, doesn’t Loaf-face sound like the ‘Gap Yah’ guy? It’s not just me, right? Right…? Then he gets pissy with Susan Kramer, as you do. Maybe he’ll chunder all over her.

Owen Paterson isn’t going to take this lying down. He’s already machine-gunned statistics at a terrified audience – time to put his mastery of cliches into action. It’s all Labour’s fault! The mess Labour made! Labour trashed the economy! Even the audience is getting sick of it by this point, groaning out a decisive boo, and they already looked pretty sickly to begin with what with the drug problems and all.

A question arises on ISIS/ISIL/IS/DoYouReallyLikeItIsItIsItWicked, and Owen is already off pointing fingers at ‘alien entities’. I’m not sure what he’s been up to since he left Cabinet, hopefully it’s not like when Robbie Williams took some time off to go hunt UFOs in the desert. Caroline wants to rehabilitate the penitent, and Loafy doesn’t want to glam the sitch up by using the word treason. Then he says something about the Spanish Civil War because Tristram can’t resist an opportunity to be a history nerd.

Suddenly, Anthony Horowitz kicks the door down. Stop them from leaving in the first place, ffs! Dimbleby is shocked that anyone would be so blunt and just…unrambly on this programme. How dare you. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done (which also happens to be the current treatment scheme for drug users!)

Down on the wind farm

A question on benefits, and Baroness Kramer concludes that that Calais mayor woman was a right cow. Owen thinks lack of free trade is the problem, like when teachers ban kids from swapping Pokemon cards in the playground. Yeah, says Caroline Lucas, but that’s no reason to ignore immigrants drowning to death. Owen explodes and accuses her of “grotesque” distortion. He uses that word approximately 10,000 times. I am falling asleep. Meanwhile, Loaf-face drones on about whatever. I’ve given up on listening to him, unless as a sleep aid, and I’m already feeling snoozy.

One last quick question on blackouts! Are we facing a three-day week? Probably not, says Caroline, because luckily we have…guess what…wind farms! Owen snorts in derision. Pshh, the Climate Change Act. Who needs it. Caroline is indignant and plants her flag firmly on the table. Unlike nuclear, which, as you will all know if you have seen The Simpsons, is the cause of mutated three-eyed fish, you can store wind and solar – but Owen shoots back with an enraged roar. We generated so much energy that we had to turn the wind farms off! he bellows, sending Caroline flying. …Wait, hang on, you’re saying it was so effective, that we had to stop it? I thought we needed ninety thousand new wind farms, Owen! Ninety! Thousand! New! Wind! Farms! Maybe the Jolly Green Giant has had the last laugh after all.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

While Horowitz shrugs noncommittally, Loaf-face leaves us with a lovely, droning anecdote of the Stoke-on-Trent ceramics industry and Dimbleby winds up the programme pretty hastily after that. Thank you, Dimbles. For all our sakes, thank you.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 5/10

Yeasty

Lucas: 6/10

(Would rather be back in the South) East(y)

Paterson: 6/10

Beastly

Kramer: 5/10

(The Lib Dems’ poll ratings have) Decreased(y)

Horowitz: 7/10

Last but not least(y)

Nobody knows who’s on next time. It is a mystery.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #57


questionable time 57 david dimbleby viking york

Good morning Lemmings and brace yourselves because we’ve got a slightly different flavour of Questionable Time this week. Had this been just another Thursday, 10.35pm would find me arranged in a supine position on the sofa, mouthing obscenities at a flickering screen and berating the cats for their obvious lack of interest. This Thursday however, was different. Instead – thanks to a mixture of bluff, guile and Twitter-stalking – I somehow managed to scale the walls of the QT fortress, negotiated my way past the guardhouse (“This isn’t the obsessive dork you’re looking for…”) and found myself watching the show in the all-too-horrible fidelity of real-life. I saw things Lemmings, things no man should see… Allow me to explain.

The holding area is a people-watcher’s dream…

Having been in the audience before, I am no stranger to the holding area (the place where the audience assemble prior to filming) and I know well its terrifying power. If I cast my mind back to that first encounter I can feel my stomach turning all over again, remembering the awful sensation that comes with the knowledge of a) you’re about to be on telly, b) you might actually have to say something and c) there’s every chance that you might make a pig’s ear out of it in front of an audience of millions. It’s buyer’s remorse writ large. Luckily for me, that wasn’t the case last night as having blagged a guest seat (the out-of-shot row off to the side) I was well and truly out of harms way. Instead, I could just kick back and take long, deep breaths of other people’s fear. And oh, what a heady scent it is.

There are two distinct groups in the holding area and their anxiety plays out in different ways. For the first group – the loners whose friends were canny enough to turn down an invitation to tragedy – it’s a quiet but visible terror, one which makes the legs jiggle, the eyes dart and the palms sweat while for the others – the team-handed – it’s a more vocal display of nervous laughs and high velocity yammering. Most of the loners busy themselves by endlessly going over the question they’re going to submit but every now and then you see a pair of them gravitate towards one another, gingerly at first but then all of sudden looking like they’ve known each other for years. This pairing-off quietly cascades across the room and as it does, you can feel the tension easing… That is until the Big Man arrives.

Time to pay Dimbleby his dues…

It’s been a solid Questionable Time rule that aside from applying his face to the ludicrous, I don’t do much in the way of Dimbers. This law stems from a mixture of the practical (it’s somewhat challenging to write about the same person week in, week out) and the judicious (he holds all the cards and that just doesn’t seem fair in a weekly death match format). This week though, I’m saying to hell with the rules and finally giving credit where credit’s due: Dimbers is damn good at his job.

The first time the audience meet him is in the holding area and the sight of this angst ridden rabble suddenly going weak at the knees is another one of those things that makes the whole process so fascinating to watch. On this occasion the Antechamber of Doom happened to be in a lecture theatre and given that I was loitering near the lectern I was treated to a grandstand view of a twitchy gaggle suddenly melt into a slush of dreamy eyes and blissed-out grins.

So how does he do this? Well, part of it is that he just looks mischievous but it’s mostly down to his ability to make you feel like you’re in on a secret. For example, this week we were treated to an anecdote about how a Question Time crowd got inadvertently swapped with a Top of the Pops audience (oh the money I would give to watch a QT crowd being made to get down and boogie), a frighteningly good Tony Benn impression and the tale of an audience member who claimed to have been murdered. More than that though, he manages to convey a sense that no matter what, no matter how slippery or evasive the buggers are, he’s going to make those poor saps on the panel pay and he needs your help to do it. Again, the change is visible: The crowd’s mile-wide-smiles take on a more fangy, savage edge, their nostrils flare and you can almost hear the chanting in their heads: Kill the pigs! Cut their throats! Kill the pigs! Bash them in!

So the show itself?

I have to admit that I didn’t catch much of the show last night as my seat was so tucked away that I couldn’t actually see what was going on but I will say this: Despite my usual fear of Gove, he actually did rather well last night. Of course, York – a stud of deep blue on that belt of red leather that keeps the nation’s political trousers from falling down – was always going to be a benign climate to operate in but his use of the Yadda-Yadda Play marks a first in QT history. In the interests of full disclosure, this uncharacteristic charitability may also be down to seeing him in an overtly humanizing context later that night: I witnessed him agonizing over snack choices in a very, very cold York station. Feeling his pain I forced a Questionable Time sticker upon him whilst muttering that I thought he did well on the show. He took it kindly enough for me to feel bad about the Gove .gif I made early in the day.

As for Thornberry, I thought she got a tougher ride than she deserved. I know the Red Team aren’t that popular in York but at least she managed to go the whole evening without blowing chunks of One Nation and Squeezed Middle over everyone (something that’s been a particularly annoying habit of Labour panelists recently).

And what of the noobs? Well, not a bad first innings for Bennett (although she’s got big shoes of hemp and sunbeams to fill following Lucas’ departure), Horowitz seems to know what he’s doing in a very crowd pleasing sort of way and Littlewood is stone cold crazy but assertive enough for that to come across as So Crazy That It Might Just Work. And that’ll do for me.

Tl;dr

Gove: 6.5/10

Pob

Thornberry: 5/10

Rob(bed)

Bennett: 5/10

(Is new to the ) Job

Horowitz: 7/10

(Has an eloquent) Gob

Littlewood: 6/10

(Is probably a free market heart) Throb

The Crowd: 5/10

(Enjoy) HobNobs?

How’s about that then? Will that keep the wolf from the door until Question Time returns in April? Well it bloody well had because I’m knocking off for two weeks. Anyway, here’s that Gove .gif I was talking about (see. Fig. 1). Yeah, I know… It’s petty and mean but in my defence, who wouldn’t want an oxygenating and animated Gove ornament in their aquarium? No one, that’s who…

michael-gove-goldfish-gif

Fig. 1

Three weeks Lemmings, three weeks…


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