Author snaps up seat on TV panel limelight

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A TOWN author took the brief opportunity to sit on a famous panel moments before she appeared on the television screens of millions of people.

Michelle Birbeck, 28, was delighted to discover political discussion show Question Time was coming to the area this week.

Along with two friends she immediately applied for a spot in the audience at the show in Stockton and all three were all allocated tickets.

Michelle, who lives on the Headland, took her opportunity in the audience to put forward her views about the Leveson Inquiry and proposed changes to the education system.

She also had the rare chance to actually sit on the panel before filming got under way on Thursday.

“Before the show started they asked for a few volunteers to sit on the panel just to check the microphone levels and things like that were all ok,” said Michelle, who is a full-time carer for her husband, Phillip, 28, who suffers with a blood condition.

“My hand went straight up in the air, it was quite surreal.”

Michelle, who recently launched her latest novel, The Last Keeper, is a big fan of the show and of panel chair and show host David Dimbleby.

But after the novelty of sitting in the audience and having a brief stint on the panel wore off, it was down to serious business and Michelle was pleased to be able to put her opinions forward.

“I didn’t get to ask any questions but I did get to give my opinion which was good,” she said.

“As soon as the show had finished we came home and watched it.

“I was actually more nervous sitting and watching it through than I was when I was sat there in the audience with my arm in the air.”

Guests on the show, hosted by David Dimbleby, were former BBC director general Greg Dyke, Liberal Democrat president Tim Farrow MP, columnist Peter Hitchens, Conservative MP Grant Shapps and Labour MP Emily Thornberry.