Question Time tonight features a virtual audience drawn from Lewisham, the South London borough which is the birthplace of Sir Richard Branson. But who will fly sky-high like Virgin Atlantic – and who is destined to be forgotten to history like Virgin Cola?
Here’s your guide to the panel…
Who? Culture, media and sport secretary
A boyish 42-year-old promoted to the DCMS role by Boris Johnson, Dowden was a Remain campaigner in 2016 before, like so many of his colleagues, pivoting to backing the hardest form of Brexit having noticed the remarkable effect it could have on one’s career. Fairly obscure (his Wikipedia entry, at 360 words, is 219 fewer than that for little-remembered 2014 flop Pudsey The Dog: The Movie) Dowden has been attempting to explain the government’s latest unfathomable lockdown regulations in England which allow two people from different households to walk around a golf course together but not play golf.
Who? Shadow foreign secretary
Labour’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, who spent much of yesterday being abused by the Corbynite left for approvingly noting that Joe Biden backed Britain in the Falklands War – an operation supported by such fascist imperial warmongers are, er, Michael Foot. Ran for the Labour leadership earlier this year on a platform of coming from Wigan, which is a town, but came third behind Keir Starmer and somebody called Rebecca Long-Bailey. Usually described as being on the party’s soft left, she yesterday described Boris Johnson’s refusal to speak out on Donald Trump’s baseless claims of electoral fraud a “very dangerous moment for the UK”.
Mathematician, author, lecturer, radio and television presenter, podcaster and public speaker, Fry is the sort of person who would be shouted down on Question Time in the days it had audiences because she BELIEVES IN MATHS rather than GOOD OLD-FASHIONED BRITISH GUT INSTINCT. Has presented programmes for the BBC explaining the mathematics behind Coivd-19 and related pandemics, which is presumably the reason for her booking tonight, but if she could possibly decipher America’s nonsensical voting system that would be great too.
Who? Conservative peer and chief executive of Next
The second Conservative on tonight’s panel in what may be a BBC experiment in bringing Twitter down, Wolfson is a firm Brexiteer who claimed last year that there “is a lot of catastrophisation about a no-deal Brexit. The people making these predictions are not traders, they are politicians.” Has claimed that Next’s clothes could actually be cheaper in the event of no-deal, which is at least good news for those men buying its suits for their first court appearance. Elevated to the House of Lords in 2010 although not a regular attender, his Wikipedia entry peculiarly states as fact that he “is focused on numbers, logic and reason”.
US actress best known (it says here) for playing Paige Matthews in Charmed from 2001 to 2006, McGowan was recognised by Time magazine in 2017 as one of the Silence Breakers, the magazine’s Person of the Year, for speaking out about sexual assault and harassment in regards to the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse cases and the #MeToo movement. Has expressed support for Tara Reade, who accused Joe Biden of sexual assault, and criticized Hollywood stars for supporting him. Unlikely to push Oliver Dowden too much on why the Isthmian League Premier Division isn’t allowed to play during lockdown but the National League South can.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.25pm in Northern Ireland)