Joshua Martin: I don't think Griffin enjoyed it very much

He was visibly shaking after 15 minutes and came across as a buffoon

Friday 23 October 2009 00:00

When we eventually got into the studio, David Dimbleby spoke to the audience, in front of a live feed of the BBC News Channel showing the riots outside. Someone near me said it was like being in a zombie film – we were the only ones left alive, and a mob was trying to get in. Dimbleby explained they didn't want the entire show to be about Nick Griffin and the BNP, but that he understood if it took up most of the recording.

He encouraged people to speak up if they didn't agree with what was being said, but to allow people to speak and not to shout them down.

Then the panellists were introduced one by one, all to a reasonable cheer. Nick Griffin came on last to a few boos, not as many as I'd anticipated, and some cheers from a little group of seven or eight supporters.

Filming went on for about at an hour. There were no real protests, nothing that the BBC will have had to cut out. But there was a tense atmosphere. There were hands up all the time, 50 odd hands, a hundred, all the time. I've never been in the audience before but I watch the show every week. Certainly it felt like there was a lot more audience participation than normal. I think we only got through three or four actual questions.

I don't think he enjoyed it very much. He was visibly shaking from about 15 minutes in. He came across not really as an Oswald Mosley figure, just a bit of a buffoon. He even laughed nervously when Dimbleby asked him if he was a Holocaust denier.

When the filming stopped the rest of the panel, apart from Griffin, got straight up and walked out. They didn't hang around and have a chat, at least not in front of us. There seemed to be some confusion about how they were going to get Griffin out. He ended up stood at the side of the room with Dimbleby for a good five minutes, while the audience just waited. In the end Dimbleby asked one of the production staff: "Is he going to be stood here for the rest of his life?"

Eventually he left. We were warned about the press and TV cameras waiting outside, and smuggled out of various different exits in little groups. There were still protesters everywhere.

Some of the people on the way out were saying they felt like they'd been part of something historic. Nick Griffin had been saying beforehand that the whole thing was like Christmas come early for him. I don't think he'll be thinking that now.

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