A look behind the scenes as Question Time comes to Sunderland

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Question Time comes to Sunderland tonight - but what goes into making the BBC1 flagship current affairs show a reality?

Unit manager Peter Walker has been at Academy 360 in Pennywell, transforming the school theatre into a TV studio ready for this evening's filming (the show goes out 'as live' but is actually recorded shortly beforehand).

Academy 360 principal Rachel Donohue checks out the set

Academy 360 principal Rachel Donohue checks out the set

"There are 47 of us on the team," said Peter.

"That's cameras, sound engineers - then there's the stage crew, the lighting crew and the production team as well.

"A small crew and I travelled up yesterday and the rest of the team came up this morning - and we'll go back tonight as well."

The crew have spent today assembling the lighting rig, with more than 70 lights, and setting up the sound and the programme's eight cameras.

Checking the camera angles

Checking the camera angles

"Six of the cameras are manned, while two are locked off," said Peter.

"The director will actually be in the truck outside, which is linked to the studio by all the sound and camera cables."

The crew will be back on the road within days.

"We actually leap-frog Question Time with The Big Questions at the weekend, with which we'll be in Canterbury this weekend," said Peter.

Rachel Donohue with the stuff the audience doesn't' see

Rachel Donohue with the stuff the audience doesn't' see

Academy 360 principal Rachel Donohue is looking forward to welcoming Question Time to the school.

"They approached us, which was really nice," she said.

"When we knew we were in the running, and that they were exploring a number of venues, they came here and did a technical survey.

"We were delighted when they confirmed they were going to host Question Time here."

Question Time does not travel light...

Question Time does not travel light...

As well as host David Dimbleby, this week’s panel includes Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley; Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell; the SNP’s International Trade Spokesperson, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh; Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee; and the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson.

An invited studio audience of 150 people will watch the programme live from theatre-style seating in the academy’s main hall, with some having the opportunity to put panellists on the spot with questions from the floor and the show will be broadcast on BBC One at 10.40pm tonight.