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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August 2004, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
The best of Question Time
Ian Hislop and Mary Archer

Ian Hislop's confrontation with Mary Archer in a 2002 edition of Question Time has stood out as a favourite moment among the programme's audience.

Viewers were invited to vote on the website for their favourite Question Time confrontation, from a shortlist drawn up from audience suggestions.

The vote was part of a special anniversary programme to celebrate 25 years of Question Time. The programme, broadcast on Thursday, 16 September 2004, put together highlights of the series from over the years since it was first aired in 1979.

Question Time has had its fair share of passionate arguments, revelations and blunders, but some of the most electric moments have been the confrontations between politicians.

Ian Hislop's altercation with Lady Archer, over her husband's criminal convictions, received more than 51% of the votes.

This was more than double the amount for the next contender on the list, when Heseltine and Prescott argued over the minimum wage.

We have also been publishing your Question Time memories.

From funny, surprising or revealing occasions, to significant political moments played out in front of the nation, you can read about some of the incidents that have helped to define Question Time for viewers, below.

Your memories:

Ian Hislop v Mary Archer is one of those defining TV moments... because it shows just how fragile people are who take themselves far too seriously and try to take the moral high ground
David Jones
I think Ian Hislop v Mary Archer is one of those defining TV moments let along defining Question Time moments because it shows just how fragile people are who take themselves far too seriously and try to take the moral high ground.
Hat off to Hislop. Hislop for PM!
David Jones

I recall an episode when a member of the audience began his question/comment with the words: "I'm not a great lover of Mrs. Thatcher". Sir Robin Day's instantaneous response: "And I'm very glad to hear it, sir."
Simon Siebert, Sydney, Australia

My favourite Question Time confrontation was Benn v Heseltine. Several of my friends remember it well and I was also surprised it wasn't featured on the 25th anniversary show.
John Govier, Swansea

My fave is when David Dimbleby pointed to a member of the audience to get their opinion but another member of the audience and the boom operator thought differently. When the wrong audience member started to speak and could be heard unusually well Dimbleby launched an attack on the boom operator for going to the wrong person. Poor bloke.
Mike, Manchester

How can you limit this to one programme. There have been so many defining moments on Question Time and to leave these in the archives unseen again would be a loss.
Simon Eades, Norwich

Fantastic, here's to the next 25 years. What a wonderful programme - long may it continue. On the anniversary edition many thanks for showing "The Lady in the Green Hat". What a star. That was my Mother - she passed away this year and I'm so proud she was on the programme as she certainly made good television!
Liz Gearing, Bristol

Question Time was superb in the '70s and 80's when Sir Robin Day hosted the programme. Sadly, these days David Dimbleby and the panellists are a lot of boring halfwits.
Mark Smith, Leamington Spa

One of the most poignant Question Time moments was Robin Cook's last as a member of Blair's cabinet. He was clearly at pains to protect the notion of collective cabinet responsibility, insisting that people should wait to see if the Iraqi war could get UN approval before they opposed it. Of course we know now that at the time he was himself very much opposed to military action, but the strain on his face as he tries to defend the indefensible is almost unbearable to watch.
Alastair Floyd, Leeds

What about the splendid 1996 confrontation between Roger Freeman, archetypal smooth Tory minister, and the 'woman in the green coat' who spoke with a delicious Polish accent and laid about him with relish? Her line "Which one is Mistair Freee-man?" will stay with me forever.
David Boothroyd, London

The episode where Henry McLeish admitted his involvement in the scandal which led to his downfall!!!
Stewart Smith, St. Andrews, Fife

What is 7 times 8? David Blunkett, the then Education Secretary, didn't know. Classic!
Neil Woollcott, Loughton, Essex

Before the 1983 election, Francis Pym, Foreign Secretary at the time, said that in his view landslide victories were bad for democracy and that he hoped one would not occur on this occasion. Mrs Thatcher was evidently watching the programme. Immediately after the election - which was indeed a landslide victory - she removed Pym from his post.
Francis Grew, London

In the late 1990s, the late great Alan Clark was asked what he thought about pornography on TV (the controller of Channel 5 was also on the show). Clark answered "They're just actors. I much prefer the real thing!"
Matt, Lincolnshire

The most memorable contribution I can remember was from Matthew Parris, who had the courage to argue (post-Soham) that convicted paedophiles who have served their prison sentences have the same right to be allowed to get on with their lives as anyone else, while the rest of the panel pandered to the tabloid scare factory.
Steve Mahoney, Coventry

I loved the time when Heseltine had obviously prepared well for a determined attack on Tony Benn and his record, only to have each assault swatted away easily with an exhilarating mix of Benn's sharp humour and capacious long term memory.
Ian, Neath

Undoubtedly, the post-Hutton Report show must feature. In particular, I'd like to see Ian Hislop's explanation of how he could state that Hutton's conclusions were wrong and the audience chanting "answer the question" at a defeated Margaret Beckett.
Tom Meltzer, London

Sir Robin Day's last Question Time when he introduced the panel by their nicknames - Dr Death, Tarzan, Worzel Gummidge and the other one - hilarious!
Wilma Weir, Sanqua

I remember Robin Day chairing a question about the values or otherwise of capital punishment. A member of the audience launched into a lengthy tirade about how he would go about the job. Sir Robin, quick as a flash said: "This is not some kind of interview panel for state executioner."
J Kenny, Norwich

I remember a great episode with Ken Livingstone on the panel, at the point where he was considering whether to run for mayor as an independent. The audience and David Dimbleby were all over him, trying to get him to declare. Everybody wanted him to at the time, but he kept holding out. Great TV.
Sam Raphael, London

Tony Benn is one of the most interesting guests and talks a lot of sense. I would love to see the clip of him winking to the camera on one show, just after he was introduced, very funny.
Nick Fletcher, Malton

The Sun's Emma Jones' foot in mouth spectacular, showing there was no beginning to her journalistic acumen. Among other howlers she confused the CIA with the CID and said she hoped New Labour would 'concentrate more on style over substance' - brilliant.
Pablo Fanque, London

In answer to the question: "Do you think politicians use too many platitudes?" Tony Benn proceeded to reel off a constant flow of political clichés in one long sentence with a wonderful irony. It left me and the audience in hysterics.
Mick Denny, Basildon

My favourite moment was five years ago when Tony Blair said in reference to hunting with hounds: "It will be banned."
Miss Arminel Scott, Taunton

My best moment was when the miners' strike finished 20 years ago. Tony Benn was on the panel and what he said about the miners reminded me so much of Winston Churchill's speech about Dunkirk. It was as if he turned the defeat into a victory.
John Fitzgerald, London

My very best moment was when Frederick Forsyth asked ex-premier Ted Heath if he would allow all our UK gold reserves to be transferred to Frankfurt. Ted Heath said no and after further questioning said he would never agree to this, to which Frederick pulled out the document Ted Heath had signed years early allowing this to happen. Heath lost his composure and credibility - excellent planning and hi-jacking by Forsyth.
Dr Stephen Alsop, Sheffield

My favourite Question Time moment has lived with me since the early 1980's. When asked for his comments on a particularly boring question, AJP Taylor - slumped in his seat - replied: "I haven't got any views on it whatsoever."
Simon Brockbank, Newbury

I paid witness to an ultimate clash of the titans when Tony Benn, Roy Jenkins and Michael Heseltine were on the same panel. The political significance of their answers was irrelevant, as each player attempted to outwit and humiliate each other in a political game of chess. Pure political soap opera!
Damian Rodgers, Oldham

John Prescott, the then shadow transport secretary was pontificating on how he would improve the rail system under a future Labour government. Michael Heseltine told him bluntly that he could not run a toy train set never mind a real one. It is not for me to say how history has judged Mr Prescott, but it caused much hilarity at the time.
Frank Astley, Bishops Castle

I would dearly love to see a clip of the 1991 programme on which Stephen Fry was a panellist. A truly intelligent and funny individual. It didn't seem to matter what the question was, but with any answer Stephen gave he only had to say a few words before the studio audience gave an approving laugh.
Phil Lewin, Bristol

Norman Tebbit is good at concluding, ironic one-liners but he misread the mood of the audience when discussing Michael Heseltine's resignation from the cabinet over the Westland affair. Lord Tebbit turned to the audience and invited their agreement when he asked: "Can 15 people be wrong and one person (Michael Heseltine) be right." After a pause and with a Rossini-style crescendo the audience responded with a resounding "Yes". One to savour!
James West, Woking

I would like to see Question Time when Ted Heath and Gerald Kaufman were members of the panel. The two of them were perfect foils for each other, and the sight of Ted Heath's whole body rippling with laughter is one I still remember. They were courteous and entertaining, but still scoring points off each other. A joy to watch and listen to.
Betty Calderwood, Hexham

I remember watching Question Time when David Dimbleby was seeking participation from the audience over an issue, and he said something like: "You madam, yes, you madam," before he had to correct himself along the lines of: "Sorry, Sir ..." as the person putting the point across was a man with long hair, who looked like a woman!
Chris Delchar, Essex

Please, please play the section of the programme which had presenter Peter Sissons valiantly failing to stem the flow of rhetoric from Edwina Currie. He eventually fell, face to table, with hand still raised heroically.
Joan Bassett, Dublin

Roy Hattersley quoted after the Grand National fiasco, "They're privatising the Grand National. Group 4 are going to run it to make sure they all get away."
Jean McAulay, North Berwick

I think it was in the 80s when Robin Day was closing the programme and said "Goodnight, and for those of you who have recorded the programme, good morning." A smart remark on the spur of the moment I thought.
John Williams, Birmingham

I should dearly like to see that wonderful moment when Cyril Smith MP said to Dianne Abbott (then very recent MP) words to the effect of: "My God, you've been in the House a fortnight and you know the bloody lot already."
Chris Eldridge, Watford, Herts

Two days before John Major lost the election and his position as Prime Minister, he fell apart and laughed with the audience on Question Time. He was asked a funny question which made the audience and Mr Major laugh. He looked down at his notes, composed himself and looked up. And then he descended into laughter again. Two days later he was no longer PM. The question came from my mother, but objectively, it was a brilliant prophetic moment on Question Time.
Anthea Gent, London

The best moment for me was during a debate about South Africa. A Labour MP and a member of the audience were arguing. The audience member said he lived there for 12 years and suggested that hence he knew more from personal experience. The Labour MP argued that he had spent a lot of time there in the past at which point Robin Day jumped in saying that he wasn't interested in their personal experiences. And that very few had been to the North Pole but we all know its bloody cold. A great moment in QT history.
Barry M, Romford

I recall an audience member getting most upset about the hard time everyone on the show was giving Mrs Thatcher. He said: "I think Mrs Thatcher is doing a wonderful job and should be veneered"
Ray, Chelmsford

I believe it was around the time of the 2001 elections, where Tony Blair was almost reduced to tears in front of a Question Time audience. The incident occurred when a woman in the audience projected her views about the NHS and the appalling treatment of her terminally ill husband. This actually led to the Prime Minister visiting the hospital in question the very next day.

Now it is not that I am one who craves on others' misery, but I felt this was one of the moments in history where a politician has shown true emotion, and has shown themselves to be human just like the rest of us. Surprisingly the incident did actually raise my opinion of Tony Blair considerably. Therefore I feel it would be criminal to ignore such a recent and groundbreaking moment from the QT anniversary addition.
MH, Aylesbury

I remember one episode with Tony Benn during the BSE - mad cow - crisis. The debate was getting very heated with regards to the things we should and should not do. Then it was Tony's turn to speak. In his typical sensible thought-provoking fashion he said: "Madam, if you are so concerned about catching BSE, you should do what I do and turn vegetarian." The audience roared with laughter.
Darren Mitcham, Aylesbury

Please include in your anniversary broadcast the part of the programme in which Ian Hislop of Private Eye comes to blows with Mary Archer. Hugely entertaining television!
Lillias Fabbroni, Edinburgh

A little lady of a certain age - wearing a hat was making her comment, wagging her finger and tearing a strip off the whole panel. She went on for quite a time and her face was used in the opening titles for the next series.
Neil Jeffery, Hereford

A Robin Day programme in the late 1980s where Glen Haddock asked a question. Glen was a messenger where I worked and was an avid newspaper reader. In his inimitable fashion, Sir Robin announced: "And the next question is from Glen Messenger, who is a haddock". Please find it!
David Ceen, London

Don't forget to include the person who suggested that Question Time was "a knocking shop". Sir Robin Day said something like: "Whatever else Question Time is, it cannot be accused of being a knocking shop."
Alan Powell, Ipswich

At the time of Robin Cook's affair - someone in the audience asked: "Yeah but what is he going to do when he loses his looks?" There was uproar!
Martin Cheek, Ramsgate

The moment that sticks with me is the occasion in which Baroness Williams became extremely passionate, not to say angry with a young female questioner who wanted to know why one should bother to vote. It was so refreshing to see a politician speaking from the heart.
Judith Atkins, Powys

28 January 1988: Robert Maclennan making a sharp observation regarding Roy Hattersley's lifestyle.
Marc Bernstein, London

Ian Hislop's dismissing of Lady Archer's pompous and ridiculous attempt to defend her husband was a joy to watch. A great testament to Ian's character is that for the rest of the programme he largely left her alone. Please show it again.
Steve Tindall, Banstead

After the 1987 Greenwich by-election Anne Clwyd went on and on about Labour's excuses for not holding the seat. Sir Robin Day yells at her, "Will you be quiet". That finally shut her up. Absolutely superb - a must see!
Marcus Berry, London

The guest was the historian A J P Taylor (Sir Alan Taylor), who gave a series of monosyllabic answers to complex questions, simply saying vehemently 'Yes' or 'No'. This prompted Robin Day to say something along the lines of: "If you don't answer the questions properly, you won't get your fee!"
Nigel Siederer, London

Man in audience said about overcrowded trains: "Can I stick my nose in your armpit?" The 08:32 to Paddington will never be the same again.
Nancy Bowden, Reading

I remember when Max Hastings called Sir Ted Heath a traitor for opposing the first Gulf War when Bush Senior was in charge. Ted Heath's rebuff was wonderful.
Mr Stephen Kramer, Brookmans Park

I always remember Patrick Moore, (I think in the last couple of years) and whatever question you asked him he always seemed to reply with his views on hunting - forthright and no compromise - nothing to discuss!
Simon Foster, Orpington, Kent

Perhaps the classic Question Time response of all time for me was in the 1980s (1985?). Alan Clark, a minister in Margeret Thatcher's government was getting quite a pasting. Anyway, in the midst of all this tremendous heckling and agitation he came out with a really classic line: "Oh, why do you always have to question everything?" to the audience. It was greeted with one of the most uproarious responses.
William Roby, Valença, Portugal

My favourite and most memorable Question Time programmes have been any that had Tony Benn on the panel.
Roy Greason, Liverpool

Almost any contribution from Boris Johnson.
Ken Patterson, Bristol

On a programme some years ago (Labour were in opposition), David Blunkett appeared along with his dog. They were sat at the end of what was then an oval table. Blunkett was asked for his views on what the Tory representative had just said. He replied: "My dog's gone to sleep!". The camera zoomed in under the table to show that the dog was indeed fast asleep.
David Bliss, Lincoln

Vanessa Redgrave endlessly talking and butting in on other speakers
M Croneen, London

There was a lovely put down of Michael Howard by Robin Day in a Question Time programme in the late 1980s. The questioner asked whether Margaret Thatcher, the then prime minister would win the forthcoming US presidential election if she put herself forward. Michael Howard said that the loss of Margaret Thatcher would be too high a price for the British people to pay. Robin Day said: "Well we can see how you've got where you have".
Gerry Newman, Laleham, Middx

The first edition of Question Time following the al-Qaeda attacks of 11 September 2001 was surely one of the most emotional. In particular I refer to the provocation of the panel by a few Muslim members of the audience and the subsequent slow hand clapping of the former American ambassador sitting on the panel.
Oliver, London

An early or mid nineties programme when a young man in the audience said: "I just wanted to say how particularly tasty the sandwiches were in the foyer, before we came in". It was great to see the unexpected and very amusing.
Adrian McNeece, Hertford

I have been to Question Time in Glasgow twice and it is a great experience, thoroughly enjoyable. A late friend, Helen Chalmers also participated and when she had the opportunity, asked a question about Tory Oops Tony Blair. I would just love to see that clip in September's programme as I did not see it at the time. Keep QT going fab programme!
Lorna Clingan, Glasgow

My favourite moment was a couple of years back when Robin Cook was on. David Dimbleby turned to him for a response but referred to him as Robin "Cock" by mistake. Quick as a flash Cook responded with: "Yes, David Bumblebee". Childish but very funny indeed.
Daniel Gillett, Northwich

My best moment was the glorious moment when Harriet Harman brought the programme to a complete standstill when she described Gordon Brown as the Prime Minister - Freudian or what?
Mike Bossingham, King's Lynn

I would love to see the video montage which was shown at the end of the last Question Time that Robin Day chaired. It had many of the best moments captured during the previous years and was a touching and affectionate tribute to his chairmanship.
Martin Gandy, Swansea


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