VIDEO - BBC Radio 4 political debate show Any Questions comes to Great Hale

Possibly the biggest debate of Friday night’s Any Questions live programme from Great Hale was whether the long-running BBC Radio Four debate show was going to make it on air at all.

A number of technical hitches had dogged the production team during the day but everything came together for the main event.

The Great Hale village hall team behind the radio event with Ken Clarke MP.

The Great Hale village hall team behind the radio event with Ken Clarke MP.

Chairman of Hale Magna Village Hall’s committee, Andrew Key, had applied to host the 70-year-old show at the venue and was successful and the production team duly turned up to enjoy the newly refurbished stage facilities. But programme producer Lisa Jenkinson said there was a technical hitch with the equipment meaning a component had to be sent by courier up from London urgently. Meanwhile one guest had become unavailable and so at the 11th hour, Father of the House, Rushcliffe MP Ken Clarke agreed to travel over to fill the vacant seat, joined by shadow International Development Minister Dan Carden, domestic abuse campaigner Julie Bindel and Financial Times political journalist Sebastian Payne.

Shaun Ley was presenting the show following the recent retirement of Jonathan Dimbleby after 30 years.

The radio show aired in front of a capacity audience of nearly 200 locals. Anyone in the audience was invited to hand in questions and a handful were selected to put them to the panel. Shaun Ley explained that none of the panellists have any idea in advance what they are to be asked.

For once, the questions skirted around the thorny and well-worn subject of Brexit. Instead they were asked about whether social care should be free, police funding, whether the UK government should intervene over treatment of protestors in Hong Kong and whether food production should be supported by government.

The Any Questions panellists with Radio 4 presenter Shaun Ley on stage at Great Hale's Hale Magna village hall.

The Any Questions panellists with Radio 4 presenter Shaun Ley on stage at Great Hale's Hale Magna village hall.

Andrew Key admitted after the programme went off air it had been a stressful day but he was so relieved that everything went well without mishaps.

He said: “It is impressive how professional and unflappable the production team are throughout the whole thing. The whole day has been really interesting.”

Mr Key said: “We had no electric at one point and no transmission line, but it all got sorted out. They did Great Hale proud and came across very well with the questions being all very civilised.

“Hopefully I will be applying to have BBC Gardener’s Question Time here next.”

Shaun Ley putting a question to Ken Clarke during Any Questions.

Shaun Ley putting a question to Ken Clarke during Any Questions.

He was delighted to have attracted new visitors to the hall, with the new stage curtains having just gone up and the stage renovated.

Shaun Ley commented after the show: “As a programme I thought it was a very enjoyable experience. I was looking at a friendly and interesting panel and no-one in the audience was looking at their watch.

“We had a great range of questions from farming to climate change to the economic consequences of spending pledges to what we should do about Hong Kong.”

He hoped the show would return to Lincolnshire soon and invited applications from venues keen to hear debate by leading political figures.

Nerve centre - inside the production truck transmitting the show out live on Radio 4 at Great Hale.

Nerve centre - inside the production truck transmitting the show out live on Radio 4 at Great Hale.

A capacity audience at Great Hale village hall for the Radio 4 show.

A capacity audience at Great Hale village hall for the Radio 4 show.

Chairman of Hale Magna village hall Andrew Key.

Chairman of Hale Magna village hall Andrew Key.

Applause from the audience.

Applause from the audience.

An attentive audience for Radio 4's Any Questions at Great Hale.

An attentive audience for Radio 4's Any Questions at Great Hale.

The whole radio programme was run from this little truck.

The whole radio programme was run from this little truck.