Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 21:12 UK

MP Lansley delays Question Time

Andrew Lansley
Mr Lansley's absence was the subject of much mirth among the panel

Filming of BBC One's Question Time has had to be delayed after Conservative shadow cabinet member Andrew Lansley failed to arrive on time.

The Cambridgeshire South MP turned up for filming in Great Yarmouth just before 2100 BST, almost an hour after the rest of the panel were in place.

The shadow health secretary had his make-up applied hurriedly in front of the laughing audience.

Mr Lansley said he was sorry and blamed the traffic around Ipswich.

A Conservative spokesman said: "Andrew Lansley was late setting off as he had to attend a meeting at the Department of Health with Alan Johnson and Sir Liam Donaldson on the swine flu outbreak.

"We were also very surprised that once we had got to Ipswich it took nearly two more hours to get to Great Yarmouth."

Question Time's production team had said the show, which is pre-recorded as live for a showing later on Thursday evening, would go ahead without the MP, had he not arrived by the 2100 BST final deadline.

Filming had been due to start at 2030 BST.

'Asleep with boredom'

In Mr Lansley's absence, the panel conducted a prolonged, unrecorded discussion on the subject of sex education in schools to fill time.

Host David Dimbleby repeatedly joked that the shadow minister had driven to Lowestoft, just down the eastern coast of England in Suffolk, by mistake and had no satellite navigation system in his car.

At one point he said: "We are in danger of falling asleep with boredom waiting for him."

Comedian Frank Skinner, making his debut on the show, replied: "I've never been so insulted."

But Mr Lansley, who arrived to large cheers from the audience in Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome, set the record when he turned up with minutes to spare.

Apologising in case he was sweating, said: "I'm very sorry to keep you waiting. I now know how long it can take driving up from Ipswich."

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