Question Time commonly invites heavyweight politicians and media figures to answer questions from the audience on major issues of the day – although a sprinkling of celebrities have also appeared in the past.
McGuinness, 50, a comedian who has also presented Question of Sport, caused a stir when he claimed he ‘admired’ the timing of Sir Keir Starmer‘s latest U-turn and stuck the boot into the Tories.
But the decision to feature him was branded ‘bizarre’ by viewers on X, with one accusing the BBC of ‘reaching a new low of dumbing down’.
Simon Trimnell wrote: ‘Paddy McGuinness really? BBC are scraping the barrel for panelists, time for the plug to be pulled on QT.’
Another viewer said: ‘Why is Paddy McGuinness on Question Time? Is it another show that the BBC wants to get cancelled?’
Others were more equivocal, with one questioning the wisdom of booking McGuinness before saying he was pleasantly surprised by his contribution.
‘Never thought I’d say this, but Paddy McGuinness has come across very well on Question Time,’ they wrote.
‘I mean, it’s a bizarre booking don’t get me wrong, but he’s certainly not embarrassed himself & he’s expressed far more sensible views than many other ”celebrity” bookings in the past.’
It’s not the first controversial booking for Question Time. In 2020, the actor Laurence Fox launched his political career on the show after entering a slanging match with an academic about Meghan Markle.
The former Lewis star accused Rachel Boyle, an academic at Edge Hill University on Merseyside, of ‘being racist’ after she called him ‘a white privileged male’ for denying the Duchess of Sussex was hounded from Britain for being mixed-race.
McGuinness was joined last night by a panel including James Daly, the new Deputy Chair of the Conservatives and Wes Streeting, Labour’s secretary of state for health and social care.
The TV host weighed in after Fiona Bruce questioned the panel about Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to ditch a flagship pledge to spend £28billion a year on green projects – which critics perceived as another embarrassing climbdown.
She asked: ‘With Labour dropping their flagship election promise, can we believe anything they pledge?’
McGuinness answered: ‘I see myself as a floating voter and I think in this day in age, certainly the past five years or so, politics seems to have been led by personality.
‘And if you look at Boris Johnson and how he did it to get into power – and that’s a prime example – then my worry with Keir Starmer is what he’s said today. I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but I almost kind of admire him for doing it now. Rather than after getting into power.’
McGuinness then launched into a passionate critique of the Conservatives, claiming they had ‘decimated’ the country over the past 14 years. This he said, made Labour a ‘shoo-in’ to win the next election.
He added: ‘I’ll be flabbergasted if they don’t get in. And I think him saying that, for me personally, well I’d hate for him to say that after he got in power. And then you feel even more let down.
‘But with regards to the climate crisis, most people, most taxpayers, kind of do their bit – you’ve got every colour bin outside your house, you put solar panels on your roof. And you do all the things you can try and to do help. But at the end of the day it’s up to these lot, the government and big business. It’s not on us. It’s these lot who need to get their act together.’
Some viewers were quick to take to social media to praise the comedian’s comments.
One wrote: ‘@bbcquestiontime Thank the lord for #PaddyMcguinness the voice that speaks for the common person. No bull, no fancy words. Give him the floor please.’
‘Paddy McGuinness…the most honest panelist for a long, long time! Well done. #bbcqt’, another said.
A third added: ‘Pleasantly surprised by the omnipresent Paddy McGuinness tonight – wasted on QoS should have been on QT all along.’
Not all viewers were impressed with the Take Me Out star’s appearance on the show, however.
Writing on X, one viewer said: ‘And what exactly is Paddy McGuinness bringing to the table? I always thought the ‘idiot northerner’ schtick was an act but clearly not. #bbcqt’.
A second added: ‘#bbcqt oh dear, what the hell…Paddy McGuinness on QT? This has got to be a wind up. Careful Fiona, he’ll cancel your show like all the others he’s been on. I switched over.’
‘@bbcquestiontime WTF is Paddy McGuinness doing On QT? ‘No likey no lighty is just about his capabilities!’ a third quipped.
He quipped: ‘Lucky for me, most people know I’m not here for my great political brain. But that didn’t stop Boris Johnson, so that’s alright.’
Leading on a more serious note however, he continued: ‘For me, James, you saying to Wes that Sir Keir Starmer is doing anything to get a vote is a bit rich coming from a Tory, let me tell you. We’re still waiting on the £350 million a week Boris Johnson promised us for the NHS.’