Questionable Time: The panel show waters are treacherous, will Stephen Twigg and Kenneth Clarke make it ashore?

Plus: Who, in the name of Jaws 2, is this Diane James?

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Good morning Lemmings and what wares can I flog you today? Let's see what I've got in this old cart of mine. Hmmm... How about a pair of fairly steady parliamentarians with a liberal bent? No? Too staid, too boring? Ok, what about a couple of ideological headbangers with a proven track record of winding each other up? Ah, I see... You're still recovering from the Hitchens/Loach to-do a fortnight back and need something a little more nuanced. Well, I'm afraid that the only other thing I've got in at the moment is an unknown quantity so fresh to the scene that there's not enough info on her to even throw together a Wikipedia article. No good? Tell you what then, I'll do you the whole lot for five minutes of your time and throw in the denizens of Dover for free because I'm feeling generous today. No refunds though. Caveat emptor Lemmings, caveat emptor...

Last night was like Jaws: The Directors Cut...

It's one of the best closing shots in cinema - Rob Schneider and Richard Dreyfus, paddling their way to shore on the wreckage of their thoroughly over-sharked boat, elated by their triumph over the eponymous monster and looking forward to a hero's welcome. The first few times I saw it, I was happy to let the implied narrative (that it will all be hunky-dory) prevail but on subsequent viewings I was troubled. After all, the shore is an awfully long way away, their makeshift raft doesn't really look up to much and one-dead-shark-does-not-a-safe-sea-make.

I bring this up because last night could well be a template for what actually happens at the end of Jaws and it goes like this: Chief Brody (as played by Ken Clarke) and Hooper (Stephen Twigg) are happily splashing their way to dry land when they notice things getting a little choppy. Members of the crowd start asking difficult questions about immigration, a swell develops and the raft begins to list precariously. It's cool though. They are both fairly centrist and socially liberal politicians who have spent many years charting these waters and by working together, they somehow keep it from falling apart. But wait, what's this? The three fins of Crow, Phillips and James have breached the surface and are bearing down on the raft, eager to rend flesh from bone with the incisors of anti-EU sentiment. A scuffle ensues. Blood is in the water, the wind is picking up as the crowd move the subject on to the economy and the sharks are circling once more. Tempers become frayed. Twigg looks like he wants to shove Ken off the raft but Ken's inability to endorse Total Austerity with a straight face spikes his gun and they paddle on, praying that something will save them.

Suddenly, Twigg thinks he's sees a way out. The third question is about whether UKIP are a threat to the Tories and this could be a life-saver: Make common cause with the sharks, serve Ken up to them and then get away while they're dragging him to the seabed. Unfortunately for him, it didn't quite work out like that...

But then something miraculous happens. As if from nowhere, the subject of the Catholic church arrives and in an instant, our scene of frenzy is becalmed. Melanie Phillips suddenly gets a little rational, Crow makes all sweetness and light while James plays it safe and the formally rabblesome crowd become a picture of tolerance. Relieved, exhausted and a little perplexed, Clarke and Tiff regain their hold on their battered raft and lash it back together with some pleasingly mellow platitudes about other people's morals. They make landfall, the credits roll and everyone can look forward to being disappointed by Jaws 2. Yeah, I preferred the original to be honest.

Diane James is still largely unknowable...

During my mainly fruitless hunt for info on James, I did notice that one word kept coming up: 'Unflappable'. On the whole, I'm inclined to agree as for a first performance, this wasn't bad at all. Granted, Dover did seem especially receptive to the UKIP line and her explaining away of the 4 million Bulgarians was a little dubious but still, she did managed to sound more together than your average Kipper. Mind you let's not get carried away as my basis for comparison here is Farage. Most things look pretty 'together' when stacked up next to him.

I feel a little cheated by the Phillips/Crow love-in...

Okay, so it wasn't exactly a 'love-in' but I was a little bummed that these mutually antagonistic parties set aside their differences in order to box the ears of Clarke and Twigg. I'm also perversely bummed that Phillips is ever-so-slowly losing her teeth. Sure, she got fair vexed by the whole EU shebang, but it wasn't a patch on her mid-War on Terror heyday. Back then, no one could out-crazy Phillips, not by a long shot and in odd way, I miss that: Nothing's more comforting than absolutely, 100 per cent, knowing your enemy. Now it's 99 per cent and petty though it sounds, I miss that 1 per cent.

For more of this, visit questionabletime.com

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