University of Leicester eBulletin

Any Questions? Returns to Leicester 

November 2002

The popular BBC Radio 4 panel programme Any Questions? is to pay a return visit to the University of Leicester on Friday 22 November 2002 at 8 pm.

An evening of lively debate is on the cards when a panel of well-known public figures will answer questions from the floor on subjects ranging through politics, current affairs, international news and other topical issues.

The panel on November 22 is expected to include:

Robin Cook, MP, first entered Parliament as MP for Edinburgh Central in 1974. Since 1983 Robin
Cook has been MP for Livingston. He has held the following posts in Parliament: : Opposition Spokesman, Treasury and Economic Affairs 1980-83; Opposition Spokesman, European and Community Affairs 1983-84; Opposition Spokesman, Health and Social Security 1987-89. Shadow Health; Secretary 1989-92. Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary 1992-94; Shadow Foreign Secretary 1994-97. Foreign Secretary 1997-2001; Leader of the House of Commons 2001. Robin Cook keenly follows horse-racing and has written racing columns in his spare time.

Susan Kramer is a business and financial consultant, advising governments and companies on financing transport and infrastructure in central and eastern Europe. Susan Kramer and her family returned to live in London in 1993 after 20 years in the USA. One of her first decisions upon returning was to join the Liberal Democrats. She is a governor of two primary schools, a member of a working group on information technology and fought Dulwich and West Norwood at the last election. She was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. Susan Kramer is a graduate of Oxford University and former President of the Oxford Union.

Alex Salmond is Leader of the Scottish National Party. Outside politics he has been a Civil Service economist and Royal Bank of Scotland oil economist. He joined the SNP in 1973;and was a member of the NEC in 1981. Alex Salmond was elected Vice-Convenor, publicity, in 1985; Senior Vice-Convenor (deputy leader) in 1987;and National Convenor (leader) 1990-present. He has been MP for Banff and Buchan 1987- present. He was prominent in the '79 Group which resulted in a brief expulsion from the party in 1981. He claims articular expertise in economics, fishing and energy and was member of Commons Energy Select Committee 1987-1992. Before becoming an MP, Alex Salmond wrote extensively for the daily and specialist press on politics, fishing, oil and economics. He was responsible for SNP Party Election Broadcasts in 1987. He interrupted the Budget speech in March 1988 in protest at cuts in income tax rates and the introduction of the poll tax in Scotland, and was thrown out of the chamber for a week.

Kenneth Clarke, MP, was called to the bar in 1963, and became a QC in 1980. He practised on the Midland and Oxford circuit, based in Birmingham. He first became active in politics while at Cambridge University, where he was President of the Union and Chairman of the University Conservative Association. He was also the National Chairman of the Federation of University Conservative Associations and served on many of the national committees of the Conservative Party. Having unsuccessfully contested Mansfield at the 1964 and 1966 general elections, Ken was elected to the House of Commons as the Member for Rushcliffe in 1970, gaining the seat from Labour. He has held it ever since, increasing his majority at the recent general election.
In the reshuffle of July 1988, Lady Thatcher appointed Kenneth Clarke as Secretary of State for Health. In November 1990, he moved to the Department of Education & Science. After the April 1992 election, he was appointed Home Secretary by John Major. Appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in May 1993, Kenneth Clarke inherited an economy recovering from a savage recession. A constant innovator in the public services, he decided as Chancellor to publish the details of his monthly discussions with the Governor of the Bank of England, which paved the way to eventual independence of the Bank of England. He stood for election in the latest Conservative Party leadership elections.

Any Questions? is chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby and goes out live on Friday evening, repeated at 1.15 pm the following day and is followed at 2pm by the Any Answers? phone-in which gives listeners a chance to join in the debate by calling or e-mailing Jonathan Dimbleby.

Currently around 1.5 million people listen each week, the majority listening to the Saturday repeat.

The programme travels throughout the United Kingdom, and occasionally to Europe, at the invitation of local organisations. The audience submits questions on the day of the broadcast and these are then sifted by the producer who selects ten questions across a range of subjects. Normally, six or seven of them are included in the actual broadcast. One of the stringent and unchanging rules of Any Questions? is that the panel never sees the questions in advance; the panellists hear them for the first time at the same moment the audience in the hall and at home does.

Any Questions? first came to the University in 1997 when it broadcast to a full house in the Fraser Nobel Hall. This visit will take place at the University’s Gilbert Murray Conference Centre in Oadby, Leicester.

Admission to the public is free of charge and tickets are allocated on a strict 'first come first served' basis. To apply for tickets please contact the University of Leicester Conference Office, telephone 0116 271 9933, email

Note to editors: Photo opportunity 7.55-8.00 pm only. Press are welcome to attend the event -please give prior notice to Sarah McRobbie on the numbers below. Interviews by prior arrangement only and are subject to availability of panel members. All requests for interviews to Ailish Kavanagh on 0207 765 5609.

A history of the programme follows. Further information on the Leicester broadcast is available from Emma Kettle, Conference Sales Co-ordinator, University of Leicester Conference Services, telephone 0116 271 9933, facsimile 0116 272 0352, email

Any Questions? was first broadcast on Friday 12th October 1948; for the first eighteen months it was a West of England Home Service programme, run from Bristol, but since April 1950 it has been broadcast nationwide and production is now based in London.

The programme has had four chairmen in its history. Freddie Grisewood was the first, steering the programme until December 1967 when David Jacobs took over. David Jacobs was chairman until July 1983; John Timpson chaired the programme until July 1987 when Jonathan Dimbleby took the chair. World at One presenter Nick Clarke is the regular stand-in on the programme.

The most prolific panellist currently is Tony Benn, who first appeared in March 1951 and has contributed around 80 times to the programme. Over the years, many figures of note have appeared as panellists, including most past and present leaders of the political parties, plus renowned writers such as Frederick Forsyth, Beryl Bainbridge and Fay Weldon, and many distinguished figures from the worlds of the Arts, Science, Business and other areas of public life. A new generation of columnists and newspaper editors, such as Charles Moore, Max Hastings and Janet Street Porter, also appear regularly.

The programme has only rarely had to come ‘off air - once through audience disruption, once as a result of sabotage by disaffected schoolboys, and once during the Suez crisis when a Parliamentary ruling was breached.

Any Questions? celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 1998.

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Last updated: November 2002
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