The BBC Question Time seems to have gone down even worse than usual, which is bad, because the programme routinely has people throwing objects at the telly. But the problem for many people this time was the audience more than the panel. Author Val McDermid asked: “Has the #bbcqt audience been bussed in from Perth and Broughty Ferry?” While Gerry Hassan tweeted: “Sorry @bbcquestiontime that prog was a new low. Non-Dundonian voices dominant with one obvious Dundee voice from audience all evening”.
Others reacted saying this was stereotyping Dundee and challenging the assertion that they should all “speak Dundonian” and talk about Jute and Hamish McAlpine. There was even accusations that people complaining were ‘anti-English’. Ho-hum. What shit. It’s all getting a bit weird. I’ve given up being surprised that Scottish voices are almost absent from broadcast and massively under-represented. Just turn the radio on any day and you’ll experience it. It’s about place and class. Shaun said it well in a series of tweets:
“Accents: It matters not a bloody jot where you come from. You live in Scotland, you call this place home, you’re Scottish in my eyes. We should treat everyone who settles here with the same warmth we’d expect if we settled somewhere else. It’s pretty simple. Holding these views and thinking that the QT from Dundee was not representative of the city of Dundee, are not mutually exclusive. An overwhelmingly hostile-to-indy audience, Labour candidates as regular joes, and barely a DUNDONIAN accent throughout the entire thing. This isn’t about ‘anti-Englishness’ or any of that SHITE. This is about representation and balance.”
Maybe Dundee needs to be put alongside ‘lost cities’ like Carthage, Ciudad Perdida and Taxila? Maybe Dundee is sipping into the ether and becoming a place that doesn’t really exist? But the reason for this blandification and assimilation is more likely to be about disillusionment and confidence rather than the conspiracy theories that are stalking the land.
This is routine and self-selecting. You’re not really supposed to talk about it in polite company.
Wee Ginger Dug says it well here ‘The Lost City of Dundee’:
“This week the programme obstensibly came from Dundee, although you’d have been hard pressed to notice. On Thursday the National had a front cover showing the lost city of Cadzow, dug up by archaeologists working on the M74 improvements. We desperately need some political archaelogists to dig up the lost city of Yes Dundee, because BBC Question Time dismally failed to find it. What they found instead was some mythical settlement where yes voting working class Dundonians are as rare as unicorns.
It would appear, according to whoever it is that decides the audience for BBC Question Time, that Dundee is disproportionately inhabited by weel spoken middle class types of a decidedly Tory persuasion, and failed Labour party candidates. It was however marginally better than David Cameron’s visit to the Tory party conference the previous week in that no one felt the need to put on a Scottish accent. Watching the programme I was struck by just how much the Dundee accent had changed since my last visit to the city. Although to be fair, it was a terribly long time ago and linguistic change can happen at a surprisingly fast rate. I just hadn’t expected it to change that much since January this year.
My personal highlight was someone who looked suspiciously like the failed Labour candidate Kathy Wiles, presented to the viewing public as an ordinary punter, demanding that the SNP apologise. For you know, general SNPbadness. Kathy was forced to resign as a Labour candidate after making a comment on social media comparing young kids at a protest against BBC bias during the independence referendum to the Hitler Youth. She had to apologise for her offensive tweet, so clearly she’s an expert in apologising.”
This isn’t a public broadcast service.
What couldn’t happen, what wasn’t allowed to happen was anything like a real representation of the city get on air. Can the BBC fix this? Are they capable of addressing this, admitting this, reflecting on this? I really don’t think so.