Lichfield celebrates Samuel Johnson tercentenary with BBC Radio 4 show

Jonathan Dimbleby

Jonathan Dimbleby

Fans of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? radio show gathered last night in the glorious Guidhall to take part in the popular show as part of this year’s celebrations of Dr Samuel Johnson’s tercentenary. The event was hosted by the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

Regular presenter Jonathan Dimbleby was joined by four panelists; Lord Adonis, David Willetts, Sarah Dunant and Jonathan Bate. Lord Adonis is Secretary of State for Transport and previously served as schools minister where he spear-headed the government’s Academies programme. David Willetts is Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills with special responsibility for family policy. Sarah Dunant is a novelist, broadcaster and critic and also regular presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves. Jonathan Bate is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick and a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The evening started off with a slight hiccup when the producer was faced with a collective groan from the audience after mistaking the Guildhall with the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. One audience member took it upon himself to correct her and she subsequently apologised before introducing the panel.

A total of five questions made it on to the show. Sarah Pop asked, “Does the panel think that it’s acceptable to attack targets in Afghanistan where it is likely innocent civilians will also be?” Then Ken Webb put to the panel, “On our small island, aren’t the benefits of high speed rail negligible in comparison to the cost?” That particular question appeared to prompt somewhat of a policy making response from Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis. Tony Thomson then asked, “Which is our more important ally and partner, Libya or the United States?” The final question prompted much mirth was from Philip Shaw who asked, “Should there be a televised debate between the three main party leaders in the run up to the next general election? If so, who would the panel choose to chair the debate?”

If you missed the show live you can listen to it again on the BBC Radio 4 web site and Any Answers? will take calls and e-mails in response to the questions put forward by the audience in Lichfield.

Any Questions at the Guildhall. Pic: Rob Morris

Any Questions at the Guildhall. Pic: Rob Morris

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1 Comment

  1. YeOldeCity

    24th September, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Rumor on the street has it that Messrs. Dimbleby and Adonis were both wheel clamped behind the council offices on the night and had to cough up £150 each. Nice one for the Secretary of State for Transport. Makes you wonder if this has anything to do with his recent comments about private clamping companies!