Secrets of the #bbcqt Countdown

Many have marvelled, and some have wondered, how the BBC Question Time countdown works, and so the boys from the pub went down @markinreading’s place to pummel the truth from him using the Jeanette Winterson “Bunny Rabbit Truth Extraction Mechanism” i.e. the threat of a damned good skinning.

Here’s how it works:

  1. @EarthwormNorman, using the best Peruvian guile and wearing his shiny new sporran, counts how many full days to go to the next show and enters it into the #bbcqt Countdown Spreadsheet (marked in blue in the diagram below).
  2. We then take the current time-of-day, say 07:45am, and ask Angelina Jolie (because we can’t do anything without her helping us) to help us count how many full hours to 10pm. In this case, 14 hours.
  3. Then we make a joke about the Queen and the Chinese Premier, and figure out how many minutes to the next full hour – in this case, from 07:45am to 08:00am is 15 minutes.
  4. Then we ridicule the establishment and activate the masses for a few minutes before figuring out how many minutes between 10pm and 10:35pm. We usually agree that it’s 35.
  5. Our resident Data Scientist, Professor Heisenberg from Woodley University, then does some things with the spreadsheet and multiplies everything by 60 a few times to get how many total seconds there are to go.
  6. The real secret is this: @EarthwormNorman is the one who actually reads out the seconds to @markinreading who types them up and shares with the world.

It’s a high-tech paradise, created purely for your viewing pleasure, and nothing to do at all with us being as barmy as bats.


5th Annual Survey – #bbcqt Production Team on Twitter

Well hey! Welcome to the fifth successive in-depth annual analysis of the BBC Question Time team’s twitterlives. We have dug again, and without even getting grit or fluff in our nice fingernails, have unearthed and refreshed our treasure trove so that you can contact and hoodwinkle on Twitter with the team. Should you wish.

It’s been a dynamic year for the crew which make BBC Question Time tick: We have a production team of 16 named individuals, of which just 5 are findable on Twitter. We gained Adam Smith and Daniel Maxwell (can’t find them on Twitter) since last year, had two name changes (Alison Pedley and Danni Ellis – you know who you are) and lost Steve Anderson, Mark Hinchcliffe and Ron Brown.

Of the 5 on Twitter, Anita Boakye-Boateng, the show’s researcher, saw a massive 500% rise in followers over the past year (from 5 to 30) and Brendan Miller, the Series Producer, saw a nearly 50% rise in followers (from 1,098 to 1,617). Alex Hudson (swoon) spewed 2,143 tweets in the year and Brendan spewed 1,040.

The prime players can be see on the Twitter lists “bbcqt Production Team”  and “bbcqt ex Production Team” on my Twitter feed @markinreading.

My favourite least-actives are @HayleyVa who generated on average one tweet per week over the last year and gained an average of 2 new followers each month. (We love Hayley’s dignified and composed approach to Twitter).

The namechanges nearly threw the eagle-eye beagle-nosed #pubqt research team. The Audience Producer was Alison Fuller (@Fullhouse21) last year, and though the same human, she now appears as Alison Pedley (@alison_pedley, 17 followers) this year, who I think must also have experimented with being @aligoggles (12 followers) in the process. Danielle Lloyd (not found on Twitter last year) now appears as Danni Ellis (not found on Twitter this year either).

The big woo-hoo goes to former ex-bbcqt Production Teamer Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) who, post #bbcqt, has grown to a followerage of 7,358, the biggest of the bunch.

The full league table is here with historical data – if you know any of the missing details, please do share:

2014 Grid


4th Annual Survey – The #bbcqt Production Team on Twitter

Welcome to the fourth annual survey of the BBC Question Time #bbcqt Production Team on Twitter. Who’s on? Who’s not? What’s hot? Who’s hot? etc etc etc.

I ran previous surveys on this blog on 16th May 2010, on 13th May 2011, and on 17th June 2012. Now it’s 2013, and I ask for the fourth time “Where are they now”? Here is the delightful outcome of this year’s intense Twitter study.

The Topline

The #bbcqt Production Team (using the closing credits from last weeks’ show) comprises 16 peeps of which 8 (50%) appear to be on Twitter of which only four can be described as “active”. I think last year’s figures were a team of 15 with 7 on Twitter (46%).

[Note that we don’t count @daviddimble (hisself) or other Gods such as @DIMBLEBOT in this “#bbcqt Production Team” surveyette. Also not included are the companies cited in the opening titles: Cloudbass is new this year, Three Squared was a new entry last year.

The Runthrough

The top human of the bill is STILL Paul Devine, Lighting Director – after three years, I STILL haven’t been able to find him on Twitter. He must be a mole. I think 2011’s joke from the Money-for-old-jokes Department is still excellent: “Come out from the dark, Paul” (“Lighting Director” / “Dark” < geddit?).

We have two new dudes this year on the front page: Alex Hudson aka @AlexHuds with 87 billion Twitter followers and Tim Harrison with zero. (“Interactive Producer” – zero????). Actually, @AlexHuds only has 4,521 followers. Lame. (Grin). Last year he was @aj_hudson with 3,355 followers. He also runs the @BBCQuestionTime twitter ID which was at 113,303 followers last year and is now at 183,616.


Stan Royle, Floor Manager for the last three years is gone and replaced by Mark Hinchcliffe. I can’t easily find him but I reckon it’s @MarkHinchcliffe – following 13 BBC types and with 12 followers but not yet confident enough to have done his first tweet. Alison Jones, bless her, the Vision Mixer, remains elusive after three years. Last year’s “Production Team” of Karen Davies and Amanda Perry has now morphed so Karen is “Script Supervisor” and Amanda is “Production Co-ordinator” but still lots of Karen Davieses and Amanda Perries but not found one relevant, as last year and the year before.


The cosmic Alison Fuller, Audience Producer is @Fullhouse21 and with 146 followers has tweeted 30 times in the last year. She’s won 28 new followers in one year. (Go on – let’s blitz this – follow her and blow her numbers out of the water!)  Danielle Lloyd, Head of Production – as in the last three years I could not find Danielle. Anita Boakye-Boateng who I think is @AnitaBeeBee is a “Protected Tweets” person with 5 followers. Assistant-Producer Ron Brown, @ronbrown01 was a newboy last year. He has tweeted 154 times over the year bringing his tweetcount up from 384 to 538 tweets and drawing in 137 new followers to 343. Brendan Miller @Brendan__Miller (note with two underscores – Brendan “Twounderscores” Miller) was a newboy in 2011 and now has done 2,716 tweets up from 1,537 tweets last year and has 1,098 followers up from 797 followers last year. Poor Natalie Higgins (@nataliesophia with 870 tweets and 469 followers) is now in the “Gone But Not Forgotten” basket gone from the #bbcqt scorecard.


A 2011 newgirl, Hayley Valentine @HayleyVa has bazooka’d her Twitter profile with 103 followers – that’s more than double the 44 from last year which was more than double the 14 from the previous year. She did 1 tweet in her first year, had done 2 by last year and now has a whopping 6 tweets to her credit. A stratospheric rise. Rob Hopkin, Director – couldn’t find him three years ago, or two or last year or this year. And Steve Anderson! Wow! What more can I say? What a babe! Executive Producer @steve1anderson has 2,214 followers up from 1,718 last year and 6,041 tweets up from 4,171 last year. 


Nicolai Gentchev – still can’t find the man, as last year and the year before.


So there you have it. I’ve updated last year’s League Table with the new skinny:


Gone But Not Forgotten

Big hugs and kisses to those gone by – still happy to see your progresses various:@bellamcshane @TomGillett1 @jennymparks and some nice updates from, in no particular order: @petercardwell,


And an update from supersplitter @jessbrammar (#bbcqt Twitter pioneer and inspirer-in-chief who left even before the first survey was done in 2010) was on her way back from Bangladesh via Dubai as we went to press today:


And from @nataliesophia who says she’s back at the BBC (huzzah!):



And from @ronbrown01 who advises on Stan Royle’s wonderful return to this evening’s episode with a nice snap of Stan with @Brendan__Miller “Stan the man alive and well enjoying a warm down pint here in Belfast” (Thank you Ron, Stan and Brendan):


Till May 2014?

Caroline Flint “In A Sheet” (Again zzz)

We posted about Caroline Flint as a panelist in March 2012. And seven months later in October 2012. Now, after six months, she’s back again. Yawn.

And so because, like the panel selectors at #bbcqt, we simply can’t be arsed, and by popular special demand, we repeat our previous blog posts on the subject. Yawn.

Here you go, with pictures of real credibility and statesman-like poise, we proudly present the boringfest that is Caroline Flint in a Sheet.

Previous “In A Sheet”s include Hugh GrantSally BercowFern Britton, Jane Moore and Gloria De Piero though we do hope this stops here – it’s all gone far too far already.


And On The Radio

Thanks to the beautiful and bountiful @doktorb for highlighting #bbcqt will now be in audio format too.



Nobby von #pubqt has already made the obvious comment that with the ability now to consume #bbcqt through TV, Twitter, Text Message and Radio, it won’t be long until there’s a 24-hour intravenous version.

God be Praised.

Open Letter To Sandra Laville and others

An Open Letter to Sandra Laville of The Guardian ( and @sandralaville) and Sophie Hoskins, Chief Press Officer of the Crown Prosecution Service ( and Jonathan Collett, Director of Communications of the Press Complaints Commission, and [I think] @JonCollett).

Dear Sandra, Sophie and Jonathan,

I read with interest an article by Sandra on the front page of today’s printed Guardian and here online in which Sandra informs us of the contents of a “file” now in the possession of Sophie’s organisation.

Sandra informs us that the file, created by one party (“detectives investigating the incident”, “the Met”) was handed to another (“the Crown Prosecution Service”, “prosecutors”, “CPS”) and reports on the contents of that file. Sandra reports a “fact” (my quotes) which is made public in the article that the file contains “no evidence that officers lied”.

I thank Sandra for bringing this fact to my attention as me and the lads down the pub have found the case both interesting, sad and amusing at various times.

I would very much like to hear this fact directly from the primary source, the CPS or Met Police but am having trouble doing so. I can not find this fact on their websites and enclose an example of my searches.


(Note that these websites contain zero mentions of “plebgate” and “Andrew Mitchell”, a strange oversight given the public profile afforded to these words.)

Google and Twitter have also not helped me identify the primary source for this fact. That the fact is not easy to find indicates:

(a) The fact has been published on CPS or Met Police websites or elsewhere but I can’t find it (the most likely).

(b) The fact has not been published on CPS or Met Police websites (quite possible).

(c) The fact is somewhere else officially in the public domain (a printed report perhaps)

(d) The fact is not in the public domain online (hopefully this is not true).

If the fact is public information, may I ask any of you to provide a copy to me or a link to where I may find it? If the fact is not public information, then I think we either have an “information asymmetry” problem or a “breach of security”. [“Information asymmetry” (Wikipedia) is is where different information is provided to different people, a practice which is not compatible with the transparency, openness and accountability of national organisations like the Met Police, the CPS or The Guardian].

If it is a breach of security, would you please let me know the prosecuting authority and where their announcement of the commencement of investigation is?

Many thanks

Mark Adams on behalf of four blokes with a pint of beer

PS Sophie, you are “Chief Press Officer” of the CPS and yet I can not find you on Twitter. As “Chief Press Officer” I can not believe that you do not use Twitter. Jonathan you appear to be on Twitter but do not openly identify yourself as who you are. This feels “covert” to me and surely such behaviour is not compatible with CPS or PCC policies.

#plebgate #laville #cps #pcc #guardian #primarysource #pubqt #wewantthetruth #youcanthandlethetruth

Press Regulation – Time for Civil Disobedience

It’s gone too far.

The Budget is a sacred piece of Government communications. And you know what? It’s shared with “the Free Press” *before* our elected representatives and *before* you and me, Dicko, Marve and DJ Doz from the Rising Sun.

What’s so special about “the Free Press”? you may ask.

Go on, ask.

The answer is that “preannouncing” Government news to “the Free Press” is a cozy, corrupt, slimy, backhanded, untransparent, vile practice which seeks to protect power and influence and does so at the blatant expense of democracy.

We must take to the Streets to protest. We must make our protests heard. It must be outlawed. There must be resignations. This practice is simply not acceptable. And I’m going to eat Dicko’s crisps if he in any way says “It’s OK” because it’s not.

Here’s what happened today to raise the bile – the Evening Standard (or “Lebedev’s Evening Standard”) published the Budget before the Chancellor presented it to the House of Commons.


I’ll say again: “The Evening Standard Published The Budget Before It Was Presented To The House”. (Well, a bloody lot of it anyway – they obviously had had sight of the whole thing.)

How can we stop this practice? Press Regulation? I should coco. And a reciprocal Politician Regulation please.

#leveson #pressregulation #gizzard