The Big Questions addressed tricky questions in Newcastle

The Big Questions. Image: Chris Middleton.

The BBC’s Sunday morning ethics and faith debate programme, The Big Questions, came to Newcastle last week, offering both students and residents the chance to weigh in on important issues.

The show was hosted from Northumbria University Students’ Union and went out live to the Sunday morning BBC audience. Hosted by a journalist and presenter Nicky Campbell, the show featured three main areas of debate, with each topic given roughly twenty minutes of debate by the panel and audience.

There were twelve guest speakers in total, representing various sides of each debate, while the audience were allowed to pitch in from time to time.

The first debate surrounded the issue of sex education in the school curriculum and at what age it is appropriate to start teaching children about these concepts.

Lynette Smith, founder of BigTalk Education, explained the way in which her team delivers this kind of education to children in order to teach them age-appropriate sex information and prevent against child sexual abuse.

The second topic for debate was individual privacy and the role of police in monitoring and storing information about individuals. The debate was lively with strong points about personal freedom made by ex-policeman turned body-language expert Darren Stanton and Liberal Democrat Lord, Paul Scriven.

The final debate was the broadest and centred on the role of the church in allowing contraception to help lower the human birth rate. This was expanded to a debate about overpopulation in general and the role of humans in destroying wildlife and pillaging the world’s resources.

While the topics were varied and interesting, there simply wasn’t enough time to address all of the issues.

Megan Doherty is a Newcastle University student and she told The Courier:

“I thought it was interesting, but only six people from the crowd got to say anything and there was a lot of focus on the first topic.”

Some students were given the opportunity to work with the BBC crew behind the scenes and had a first-hand look at what goes into making a live show for TV.

Juan Trillos is studying an MA in Journalism at Newcastle University and he said:

“My experience at the Big Questions TV show was quite interesting. Although I have already worked in the media industry in Colombia, my country, this was my first experience behind the scenes in a TV show.”

For Juan, the most interesting aspect was learning the technical side of production.

“We were taught how to use a camera during a live TV show, how to make good TV shots, how to zoom and focus, and learned which are the main roles of an editor, producer, director and a sound engineer.”

BBC’s The Big Questions is broadcast at 10am every Sunday from different locations around the UK.

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