Going on Question Time? This handy guide from a former Labour adviser will help
There are ten simple rules to remember.
BBC Question Time can be the making or breaking of politicians, for a few weeks at least. Luckily for them, they have advisers to help them prepare for such a television encounter.
One such adviser has shared his top ten tips for success on the programme, to Twitter’s delight.
Theo Bertram served as special adviser to the Prime Minister for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown between 2006 and 2010, so he is qualified to give an insider’s view of Question Time.
To increase your chances of more claps than boos, follow the following rules.
1. Don’t do it
1. The best advice of all: don’t do it. Not voluntarily. (If you want to share your opinions and debate with the public, do Any Questions instead.) But if you have to do it...— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
Seriously. That’s Bertrand’s advice.
2. Brief the independent guest
2. Brief the ‘independent’ guest. Sure, they all deny it. After all these are people with huge egos (or occasionally - great causes) who won’t be told what to say. But nobody likes to appear stupid. They just want some background. Facts. Context. Just to be helpful.— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
3. Remember audience member’s names
3. Repeat audience names. Since you’re not going to answer their question the least you can do is remember their name. Saying their name out loud on national TV gives them a little endorphin shot of vanity or a flush of embarrassment that stops them grimacing at your answer.— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
4. Give the people what they want: Trivia
4. The astounding tangential fact. A David Miliband special. Start your non-answer with a suprising piece of trivia. ‘Do you know which country in the world drinks more Guinness than Ireland?’ *pause* ‘Nigeria!’ Then segue into whatever the fuck it was you wanted to say anyway.— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
5. Compassion is key
5. Be solemn. Ladle it on like sad curry sauce on recently bereaved chips. No one can pull you up for being compassionate. Lay it on thick.— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
6. Know your audience
6. Be local. The one thing you can be certain about is where QT takes place. ‘Well, David, I’ve no doubt if Trump comes to [*insert name of town*] he’d love to see [*insert local tourist attraction*] but people here have a saying [*insert ballsy local saying*].— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
7. Be magnanimous
7. Be magnanimous. Make a really big deal about agreeing with your opponent even though you are agreeing on an utterly non-controversial point. ‘You know David you won’t often hear me agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg, but on this issue we agree: dog-fouling IS a scourge.’— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
8. Be clear – yes or no?
8. One word answer. If you get the rare chance that you can give a straight answer, take it. Say yes. Or no. Dimbleby will fawn over you, dropping his glasses down his nose: “A straight answer from a politician! Well, do you want to expand?’ And then you can waffle on as usual.— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
9. Play the game for screen time
9. Play the cutaways. While someone else is talking, shake your head. Keep shaking it. You’ve got to wait for the director to spot you shaking your head, get the shot, whisper in Dimbleby’s ear & cut to you: ‘You’re shaking your head?’ ‘Yes, I am David. And let me tell you why...— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
10. Take a pop at an audience member – but choose carefully
10. Disagree with an audience member. The classic Widdecombe. ‘Look I’m sorry to the man in the green jumper but you are talking absolute rot.’ Everyone at home loves to see a pillock get his comeuppance & the audience in the studio then think twice before having another pop.— Theo Bertram (@theobertram) April 26, 2018
Obviously the first rule is the best one – just don’t appear. But these rules will help you if you decide to go on.
Either way, the rules will make a fantastic drinking game.
Ladies and gentleman I think we've got our points guide for the Question Time drinking game - the only thing that would make watching that show bearable!— Schizzinosa (@Bhiggins1987) April 27, 2018