School proves a perfect host for BBC radio show

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A SECONDARY school in Barnham played host to a live debate on the BBC on Friday evening.

About 1.5 million listeners tuned into Radio 4 that night and for the next day’s repeat to hear the latest Any Questions? debate at St Philip Howard Catholic High School.

More than 200 people filled the school’s hall to witness the show and quiz the panellists, which included MPs Francis Maude (minister for the cabinet office), former home office minister Norman Baker and shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan along with Dia Chakravarty of the TaxPayers’ Alliance

Philip Howard’s former assistant head, Bob Tebbit, started the show. He asked the panel, chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, if they thought the UK was likely to suffer a terrorist attack, similar to the Charlie Ebdo massacre in Paris, and how it could be stopped.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Tebbit said: “It was a very strange and peculiar feeling which I’ve not had before. Yes, it was live and yes, there were over a million people listening so it was at the back of my mind when I was speaking.”

He added the Paris killings had a personal link. “My sister lives in Paris so I was obviously very concerned about her while the whole incident was taking place,” he said.

Mr Tebbit was not the only person with links to the school to ask a question.

Sixth-form student Ray Baquiran, 17, quizzed the panellists on a recent Church of England statement about the growing inequality in the UK – a question which prompted plenty of heated debate.

“It was very lively, the MPs and Ms Chakravarty gave their honest opinions I think and I did enjoy some of the heckling from the crowd as well,” he said.

The debate was organised by history teacher Chris Norris. He said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. We first tried to get this organised 15 years ago on the school’s 40th anniversary. Nothing happened.

“We tried again on the 50th and again, nothing. So to have it here now is brilliant.”