BBC Question Time's finest, most memorable and shocking moments

The BBC show has produced some of the most entertaining moments of TV debate. Here are a few of the best...

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The Independent Online

It’s supposed to be a forum for lively, informed debate from some of the country’s most informed and articulate figures.

But on many occasions, the BBC’s Question Time has descended into farce – producing some truly brilliant and lively moments of TV gold.   

After Joey Barton’s unfortunate remarks on last night’s programme, we’ve collected some of Question Time’s finest moments from across the years...

Nick Griffin attacks Jack Straw’s father

The then-Justice Secretary Jack Straw was left speechless when BNP leader Nick Griffin launched a vile attack on his father’s wartime jail spell. "My father was in the RAF during the second World War while Mr Straw's father was in prison for refusing to fight Adolf Hitler," Mr Griffin said as he deflected questions about his alleged support for the Nazi Party.

Watch from 3:58

Eric Pickles completely embarrasses himself, and admits: “I am never going to be able to satisfy you folks”

Eric Pickles bravely went on Question Time in the middle of the furore over MPs expenses back in 2009 (or what he called “hang an MP week”). His performance, in which he moans about having to turn up at work on time (Dimbleby: “Like a job in other words”), will surely go down as one of the most humiliating in the show’s history. As the audience groans and heckles, Pickles appears to throw the towel in and admits, “I am never going to be able to satisfy you folks” (3:24). See for yourself:

Russell Brand’s banker-bashing orgy

We may never know why the BBC felt compelled to feature Russell Brand on Question Time, but we will always be thankful that they did. The comedian said, joined by fellow comedian Melanie Phillips and Mayor Boris Johnson, famously quipped: “I think an orgy of any kind would be great, but one that focuses on banker bashing would be the best kind of orgy I could imagine”.

David Starkey insults the audience (twice)

Controversial historian David Starkey courted controversy when he insulted an audience member’s answer to his question about police strikes. “Is this how we conduct debate?”, Starkey asked as he threw down his pen and theatrically imitated the young woman’s answer. Starkey also attracted criticism in a separate appearance – when he appeared to suggest that women think with their “heart” rather than head.

Watch from 1:58

Melanie Phillips: Iran wants to bring about the “apocalypse” in order to summon “to earth the Shia messiah”

Only right-wing columnist Melanie Phillips could out-perform both Boris Johnson and Russell Brand, but here she impressively manages to do both. Incisively asserting that Iran is attempting to bring about “the apocalypse, literally the end of the world” in order to summon “to earth the Shia messiah”, Phillips lets loose on the “trivial” and “ignorant” audience. Vintage Question Time. 

John Lydon: “I don’t want my drugs taxed”

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols, made a disastrous appearance on the show in July last year. At first greeted by rapturous applause from the audience, his bizarre quips and interruptions were soon met with long, awkward pauses. In this moment from the show, Lydon gives his pleas for the legalisation of Class A drugs, plainly stating “I don’t want my drugs taxed”.