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Question Time

1 9 7 9 – current (UK)

Based on the BBC Radio 4 programme Any Questions?, Question Time was first broadcast on Tuesday 25 September 1979.

The programme was devised as a forum for panels of politicians, public office-holders and celebrities to face questions on topical issues from a studio audience. The first panel comprised Labour MP Michael Foot, author Edna O’Brien, Conservative politician Teddy Taylor, and the Archbishop of Liverpool Derek Worlock.

Veteran broadcaster Sir Robin Day was the programme’s first chair, presenting it for nearly 10 years until June 1989. Question Time soon gained popularity under Day’s lead, with his quick wit and interrogation skills. His famous catchphrase when he had introduced the panel was: “There they are, and here we go.”

After Day retired, Peter Sissons took over and continued until 1993. The BBC decided to widen the programme’s appeal by moving it around the country (it had previously been filmed at the Greenwood Theatre in London).

Sissons passed away on 1 October 2019 at the age of 77 and was succeeded as the Question Time chair by David Dimbleby (who beat Jeremy Paxman in two pilot show auditions). Dimbleby presented the show for 25 years until his final programme, aged 80, on 13 December 2018.

Fiona Bruce became the new chair in January 2019.

Guest presenters over the life of the programme have included Ludovic Kennedy, Sue Lawley, Bernard Levin, Donald MacCormick, John Humphrys and Nick Robinson.