Village of Haddenham

'Any Questions?' from Haddenham

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The BBC Radio 4 programme 'Any Questions?' paid a return visit to Haddenham village hall on Friday evening, 20th August 2021, at the invitation of the Village Society.

The programme was last broadcast from Haddenham in December 2012.

Approximately 150 suitably masked local residents were in attendance — the numbers well short of the potential capacity, due to Covid restrictions.

Warm-up man 'Dave from the BBC' reminded us that Any Questions? was first broadcast in October 1948, beginning as a fortnightly programme on the West of England Home Service that was originally intended to run for six editions only. It became a weekly programme in September 1949, broadcast live in the West Region on Friday evenings with a national repeat transmission on the Home Service up to six days later.

This pattern changed in September 1950 when the live Friday broadcast was switched to the BBC Light Programme (BBC Radio 2 from October 1967), although the discussion still came from venues in the West of England and the programme continued to be repeated later on the Home Service (BBC Radio 4 from October 1967).

The panel discussions were previously chaired by:

Freddie Grisewood (1948-1967)
David Jacobs (1967-1984)
John Timpson (1984-1987)
Jonathan Dimbleby (1987-2019)

The relatively new host is Chris Mason, who took up the reins in 2019 and most of his tenure to date has been to coordinate virtual discussions via Zoom. The visit to Haddenham was only the 10th outing to a live venue since Covid restriction began to be eased.

Chris chaired the discussions with consummate professionalism and impressed the audience with his detailed grasp of a wide range of current national and international issues.

On the panel were the Labour MP Diane Abbott, the Conservative MP and Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey, the editor of The Spectator Fraser Nelson and the SNP Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson at Westminster Tommy Sheppard MP.

Questions from the audience very much focused on the current situation in Afghanistan, in particular the extent to which British involvement over the last 20 years was perceived to have been a success or a failure and whether the UK Government was doing enough to assist those Afghans who had worked in collaboration with the British to leave the country.

The panel was also asked to consider the impact of rapid housing growth and new planning regulations on rural communities that lacked the infrastructure to cope — a subject very close to the heart of many Haddenham residents.

To view photographs from the evening, please see our GALLERIES

Listen Again

If you missed the programme live and its repeat on Saturday lunchtime, 21st August, there's still an opportunity to listen on BBC Sounds — to do so, click here