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BBC Question Time Audience Application Process More Stringent Than You Might Expect

For everyone who has ever thought 'where do they find them?!'

23/02/2017 16:53 | Updated 24 February 2017
BBC
Question Time audience members undergo a stringent selection process

Audiences on the BBC’s flagship political programme Question Time are often a source of amusement, controversy, and righteous consternation for the millions of viewers tuning in each week.

Yet before they take a seat before a weekly panel of politicians, commentators, and, of course, David Dimbleby, audience members undergo a stringent selection process designed to balance their political views.

And despite constant accusations of bias, the Question Time application form asks specific questions to determine how applicants have voted and what, if any, their affiliations might be.

BBC
The BBC asks applicants 'How did you vote in the EU referendum?' and 'How did you vote at the last General Election?'

The BBC has previously explained how it chooses Question Time audiences to ensure those in attendance are representative of both the UK and local constituencies.

A spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK: “The Question Time audience is always chosen by a team to ensure broad political balance and each application goes through the same rigorous background checks.”

Jeff Overs via Getty Images
The BBC has previously explained how it chooses Question Time audiences to ensure those in attendance are representative

Questions designed to understand an applicant’s political affiliations include: ‘If there was a General Election tomorrow, for which political party would you be most likely to vote?’

The corporation allows applicants to type their own answer.

The BBC also asks applicants to choose whether they are an active member of a political party; a non-active member; or if they are not a member of a party at all.

These questions were mandatory on the BBC form at the time this article was published.

BBC
The BBC asks applicants to choose whether they are an active member of a political party

While the BBC claim every audience member is subject to the same level of scrutiny, not all participants apply off their own bats.

In an effort to diversify audiences for programmes filmed in areas with low political engagement, BBC researchers will make efforts to encourage underrepresented, or fringe political groups, to apply.

These efforts have caused controversy in the past, amid accusations certain programmes have been ‘biased’.

Jeff Overs via Getty Images
BBC efforts to diversify its Question Time audiences have caused controversy in the past. This file photo shows a majority white audience at a recording of the programme in 2004

While efforts are made to understand the questions audience members might ask, not everyone who applies will be able to ask quiz the panel.

The corporation asks applicants for two ideas for questions around a current topical issue.

Applicants are also asked if they’ve appeared on Question Time previously.

Every application to be part of the Question Time audience has to go through the same rigorous background checks BBC

In response to queries about the Question Time selection process, the BBC has previously said: “The Question Time audience is always selected to ensure a balanced and constructive discussion.

“Every application to be part of the Question Time audience has to go through the same rigorous background checks and in no way seeks to target one particular group.

“Separate to the audience vetting process Question Time always posts on a wide range of local social media forums as a way of making viewers aware upcoming shows will be on TV.” 

Applicants for BBC Question Time can apply online here and by phone on 0330 123 9988.

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