Question Time has become a daft pantomime of point-scoring: kill it off

Suzanne Moore
David Dimbleby is to step down as the host of BBC1’s Question Time. Photograph: Richard Lewisohn/BBC/PA

Who will replace Dimbleby on Question Time? The nation frets. Who can do this demanding job of pointing to a man in a jumper and then apologising because it is a woman. Well, possibly a woman. Samira Ahmed, Emily Maitlis, Emma Barnett. There are loads of great women broadcasters around at the moment.

But surely Question Time went from being unmissable event TV to eminently missable banal and tribal pantomime of spin a long time ago? Too many panelists, too many briefed-up politicians sticking to party lines, and the always spare “alternative” comedian who is neither funny nor clever.

The most you can hope for is an audience member saying something daft or insightful. There are the dreaded would-be populist rants where the panellist waits for applause and none comes. There is no debate, as such. There is snark, and point-scoring on a non-existent board. There are the attack dogs, and Twitter judging every woman on whether she is “fit”. There is often someone from the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Why? There is Nigel Farage. Isabel Oakeshott appeared as a “journalist” last week.

The whole thing should be put out to grass. Either we question politicians properly and hold them accountable (this happens much more on the radio), or we have a much looser interaction and not this fake debate with entirely predictable questions. The quality of the presenter is not the issue. It is the quality of the guests. We see the same people over and over again, and few sane women I know will ever go on it, because it is a no-win situation. The central idea of this programme, that someone might answer a question: well, when did that last happen? When did a politician last have the guts to say, “Do you know what, I have no clue about this. Let’s talk to someone who does”?