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Question Time goes down a storm

Tuesday 29 March 2022

The BBC’s Question Time was filmed at The Grammar School at Leeds for the first time in its history last month.

Fiona Bruce and a panel of five guests battled storms and floods to reach the school where the stage was set for the BBC’s hour-long political debate programme on Thursday 17 February. The assembly hall was transformed into a TV studio for the night.

Principal, Sue Woodroofe said: “We were so pleased that Question Time in Leeds could go ahead, even if it was nail-biting getting all of the speakers to school on time to start filming due to the storms and gales across the country!”

The panel was made up of the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham; Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress; Juergen Maier, industrialist and former chief executive of Siemens UK; Jake Berry MP, chair of the Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs and journalist, Inaya Folarin Iman, who presents a politics programme on GB News.

A specially selected audience – which was limited to 50 guests to comply with COVID-19 guidance – grilled the panel on current issues such as the government’s levelling up policy, public transport in Leeds and the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Amongst the audience were a few alumni and current school students. One audience member in particular caught the attention of Fiona Bruce, who twice asked for a response from the man in “jazzy green glasses”. Leeds entrepreneur, Jonathan Straight (OL83), became the subject of a Twitter exchange with many people referring to his attention-grabbing glasses and handlebar moustache.

He said: “People have told me that I am now a meme – whatever that means.”

Most Twitter comments were “complimentary or humorous” he added, and many referred to his glasses which are just one pair from his vast collection of around 400 pairs.

“I was lucky to be chosen. Each person submitted two questions before the event and one on the night. Only six or so were asked – so a one-in-ten chance. I was not chosen for a question, but it was far more interesting to comment.”

One viewer even tweeted that Jonathan should have been made the host.

“Being memorable is one of my business mantras and I think this proved the point,” he said.

GSAL’s school hall, which is usually used for assemblies, prize-giving ceremonies, exams and parents’ evenings, was laid out with the stage at the other end of the room.

Sue Woodroofe added: “The BBC team was a real pleasure to work with; they were positive, professional and super-efficient, which made our role as hosts so easy. We would be thrilled to welcome them back anytime!”


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