Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Question Time (with link)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Update: the episode is available for viewing on BBC iPlayer for a few days here.

  I’m going on Question Time tonight, in Rugby. I don’t know why I said yes. Actually I do know - it’s because I’m always brimming with vehement opinions when I watch it, as explained at the beginning of this column.

  But of course, having said I’ll go on it, I’m panicking today that I have no opinions about anything, am utterly ignorant of how borrowing works in the Eurozone, and God knows what to say about Syria. Dammit, you have to say yes to these things in advance, and you say yes hoping there’ll be no news stories that week except pasty taxes and David Cameron playing Fruit Ninja, so you can just be flippant and inappropriately opinionated about things that don’t matter very much. And then the day dawns and the news is all grim serious stuff for grown-ups to talk about, and you wonder whether your mum could phone them and say you’re ill.

  Ah well. Good luck me. If you watch it and I sound like an idiot, remember, I’m only a poker player…

  (nb. If you ever see me playing a poker tournament and I totally cock up a hand, remember: I’m only a writer…)

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Donald Smith at 12:25 pm on May 31st, 2012

Good luck with the broadcast Victoria, delighted to see you’re appearing again. You’re one of the best panellists the show has had in my view and I trust you’ll do well again. Looking forward to it.

john at 7:18 pm on May 31st, 2012

I don’t like your writing, you’re only a quiz show host :)

palladian at 7:40 pm on May 31st, 2012

All the best!

Plenty of possible poker analogies in the Eurozone crisis - has Germany over-played its hand, is it trying to be a table bully?; is Greece a busted flush?; will Spain go all-in with 7-2 and get called? - to keep them thinking.

Has everyone been playing with money they couldn’t afford to lose? Was the game rigged? And so forth. 

Look forward to watching it and you.

Nick Goodwin at 7:58 pm on May 31st, 2012

Is it possible to get the RSS feed fixed so that the full articles are returned when viewing the feed via a reader ?  Thanks !

Dave from Kent at 9:51 pm on May 31st, 2012

If you get stuck, talk about adolescent sexual fumblings - it worked so well last time with Alan Johnson. Dx

Chris at 10:18 pm on May 31st, 2012

Thank you so much for lending some sanity and well thought comment on the Drs strike. In a world where it can sometimes appear as though everyone is selfish - there are occasionally folk like you, and that makes it all ok again. Thank you

Ali Nikkar at 10:27 pm on May 31st, 2012

As a doctor , I want to thank you for your comments about doctors , I am very grateful for telling the doctors’ side of the story. I didn’t even vote but it upsets me when people talk about our salary or pension as if we are football players! Thank you again ....You Rock!,

Sydney at 10:50 pm on May 31st, 2012

I really enjoyed your comments, its so great to listen and learn from your intellegence.

Karl at 10:56 pm on May 31st, 2012

Enjoyed your comments but I too feel that my opinions have no voice - so hear it goes:
What is a politicans pension? Are they paying more and working longer?
A bigger time bomb is the lack of private sector pension arrangements , we always off set public against private sector as a mechanism to deflect issues and get people arguing between themselves. The less fortunate (private in terms of pension) will argue against those whom they as having more. Do public sector not buy in with lower salaries as the pay off is in terms of pension, which I would argue I pay in 15% . Also the gov. argument about the low levels of individuals who actually vote to strike , they forget they got elected on a low vote !!! How do individuals get their voice heard?

tom quinn at 11:02 pm on May 31st, 2012

I just wish to have the opportunity to correct you on your piece on qt about doctors and how we should all feel sorry for them and not be tricked into being against are totally and utterly wrong and I will be more than happy to explain to you why. I imagine you are feeling pretty confident and smug that you will dispatch this little peasant who dared question your opinion, well please be my guest as I could do with a laugh. Many have tried and all have failed.

Nigel Sutherland at 11:03 pm on May 31st, 2012

I watched QT and have to admit I sat up with admiration when you spoke. I loved everything you said, and the “stick a few more sausages on the BBQ” comment at the end summed it all up for me. Wit and common sense combined (and not a little glamour). Fingers crossed that you’re invited more often. :-)

Dan at 11:04 pm on May 31st, 2012

That was great.  I hope they keep bringing you back now.  An unusually constructive Question Time too.

In fact I hope they keep bringing you back for everything.  Can there be a fan version of Balderdash and Piffle?

Phillip Dixon at 11:07 pm on May 31st, 2012

Thought you were brilliant on Question Time! You stood out from a rather grey bunch -except Frazer he’s rather clever but not as pretty or witty. Keep on saying what you do and don’t let anyone put you down. 

Donald Smith at 11:16 pm on May 31st, 2012

Having just watched the show I thought you made an excellent contribution and struck exactly the right balance of humour and cogent argument on what are, as you said regarding Syria, complicated subjects. I followed the text comments that accompanied the show and you were very popular on them as well. Hope you get invited back before too long.

Jayson Burns at 11:16 pm on May 31st, 2012

Thanks for sticking up for the public sector tonight. When you watch these programmes it’s nice to see somebody who actually points out that public sector pensions aren’t the real reason the country’s in such a state!

Peter J at 11:25 pm on May 31st, 2012

You were brilliant - well worth staying up for.  I especially loved the story about the 93 year old letter writer.  By the way, who are you .... ?

Gary Barker at 11:27 pm on May 31st, 2012

It was good to hear someone getting to the nuts and bolts of the points for once instead of just mealy-mouthed politicians who all sing from the same business appeasing plain brown enveloped songheet. Well done Victoria.

Phoebe at 12:23 am on June 1st, 2012

Well done for tonight!

Can you be PM please?

Sanj at 12:26 am on June 1st, 2012

A frustrating QT again.  It was good that at least one politician was not just playing party politics.  I’m always most interested in the non political guests and audience views.  I agreed with VC on pretty much everything, even the doctors striking…to an extent.  As a society we are constantly being divided into groups and then set against each other. I assume this is so a level of solidarity amongst people never really forms.  (cont’d)

Sanj at 12:33 am on June 1st, 2012

Many professions work very hard and are not recognised for the work they do financially, whereas others don’t appear to deserve what they receive.  My mum who is a carer and visits people in their homes performing many functions including personal care is paid £6 an hour. Due to the cuts many of her clients now only have 15 minute and 30 minute appointments and she is not paid for the time it takes to travel between clients.  A 30min visit earning her £3 can take over an hour depending on the traffic. I couldn’t clean anyone’s shit for £3 an hour! The problem is deeper than doctor’s pensions, much deeper.

palladian at 6:38 am on June 1st, 2012

The riposte to Alan Duncan that his legal ‘all chums together’ analogy regarding Hunt and Murdoch was akin to a judge being friends with the defendant not the barristers was spot on.

Philip at 6:50 am on June 1st, 2012

A genuinely outstanding contribution. Particularly great to see you speak with such passion on the subject of doctors’ pensions and public sector workers in general.

Simon Bonney at 9:12 am on June 1st, 2012

A huge thank you to the latest member of the Coren family to speak out on behalf of public sector workers.Your Dad spoke up for Firefighters in 2002.I will remember it for ever

Andrew Walton at 9:14 am on June 1st, 2012

Articulate, coherent, persuasive and witty - great performance on Question Time. More left wing than any of the other panellists - well done on putting the case for public sector strikes.

Lisa at 9:46 am on June 1st, 2012

I’m a young female doctor. Thank you for speaking sense about us last night. I work in a field where I need fighter pilot style reactions. I musn’t do it until 68. It’s dangerous for patients. Doctors don’t live as long as the general public. The research is out there proving that. We overhauled our pension in 2008 and deliver a massive surplus to the treasury. We pay more than any other public sector worker. I haven’t had a pay rise in four years. We are junior until consultancy and I personally earn less than the nurses I work with (and don’t begrudge them as they are wonderful.) It is the twilight of our careers after twenty years postgraduate experience(which we pay for) where we are renumerated. Staff from whitehall leaked they are going for us as they see us as apathetic do-gooders.

Digger at 10:56 am on June 1st, 2012

Hi Victoria,

You did an interview for us a while back.

Just a quick line to say we needed you on Newsnight last night. Some good points well made. Not always possible to get a response

in to others’ comments which must be frustrating. Good to hear some fresh arguments which took the politicians by surprise and made them look even more average and useless.

Mike T at 12:35 pm on June 1st, 2012

Dear Miss C, methinks the sycophants do praise too much.  Some of the comments on here read more like a luvvies review of a new West End play.  ‘VC was simply outstanding; a captivating masterpiece of eloquent political observation spiced with a sprinkle of satirical pragmatism….. etc etc’ you get the picture I’m sure.  Nonetheless, I did enjoy your performance and you were more entertaining that your fellow panellists.  Having said that, both Mark Oaten and Fraser Nelson were also worth listening to.  If Lisa (the young female doctor) really thinks she needs reactions akin to those of a fighter pilot then she is somewhat deluded.  Thank you for making the programme more enjoyable than usual.  Yours in (mildly) reserved admiration, Mike  

Jayne at 1:58 pm on June 1st, 2012

If you’re ever on the look out for a new best friend, please can I be it?

Steve at 3:36 pm on June 1st, 2012

Watched QT last night, i thought you were well worth the licence fee. Please dont wait a long time before a return visit. Excellent.

PKthinks at 6:45 pm on June 1st, 2012

I trained 5 years to be a doctor 10years to be an Emergency Medicine consultant.
The Government is waging a war on the public sector, we are not guilty
So thank you Victoria
I like my job but I couldn’t do it until 68 (few if any could safely)
The financial sector were earning too much to worry about such humble things as pensions while I was training. Well it’s over, it was all a lie.
But the teachers, the nurses, the doctors, believe me you need them more.
You will pay a lot for them in a private system. Some people have long yearned for an end to such a benevolent, inefficient costly organisation as the NHS (full of atruism)
Your Government is undermining the public sector.
My pension will be smaller than before, but so will the NHS, and you will pay MORE not less in every way

Craig Caven at 8:56 pm on June 1st, 2012

Very disappointed by your comments regarding letting in immigrants.
Im not racist or really left wing looney but when your family came over there were hardly any here and the population much lower. There are no jobs around for anyone…no room on the road system and you can barely move in citys….thus your comments idiotic IMO….dont over do the PC youll end up hated aside from that highly PC program but there did not seem over enthusiasm for your comments even on there…..wearing thin me thinks.

Steve at 10:00 pm on June 1st, 2012

Very disappointed in your comments on doctor’s pensions Victoria. With people living ever longer, no country in the world can afford to pay high pensions from a relatively early age, so there has to be some form of re-balancing for everyone. We, like much of the developed world are in a great amount of debt and all parts of society have to pay their share. There are millions of people in our country who work very hard for a very long time only to receive a rather mediocre pension and most of these people get a lot less money for working than doctors get in their pension. Doctors have to have their pensions reformed because the country simply cannot afford it and they, like the rest of society, have to take some of the burden.
I was quite a fan of yours but no longer I’m sorry to say,

Dan at 10:52 pm on June 1st, 2012

“no room on the road system and you can barely move in cities”

Even though there’s a lot of room and you plainly CAN move in cities, there’s a point to that - but it’s nothing to do with immigration.

Lewis at 10:42 am on June 2nd, 2012


I thought your performance on Question Time was highly entertaining and witty…. Instead of poker try comedy.

I agreed with you on Doctors pay, it requires alot of dedication and sacrifice and I believe for the work they do the goverment should support them as if it was private there would be a lot of suffering for the poor.

I am a university student training - wishing for a career as a journalist in sport, and i agree with you the job is about holding power to account.

On Greece I believe two points are relevant that many brits go and live in Europe but also believe there is a limit. 8.2 per cent is a major issue that should not be added to. I believe the only people who should come here are the most talented and as you said those who better the nation as a whole.


Clive at 8:57 pm on June 2nd, 2012

And what, pray, happened to my highly articulate deconstruction of your points on Question Time?

Honestly Vicky, submitting comments to this blog feels a bit like an audience with great and mighty Wizard of Oz. In particular the appearance of the ‘Moderator’ puts me in mind, for some reason, of the old man behind a curtain pulling levers…

Shelagh Lumby at 10:54 pm on June 2nd, 2012

just watched Question Time on iplayer - enjoyed it & thought you very good. Made the point about attacks on public sector well. I always enjoy your Observer column too

DaffyDuck at 1:19 am on June 3rd, 2012

Im late, I know it… dont give me any hassle…  but I would just like to point out that finally, after bowing down to mr Murdock and watching Question Time via Sky+, I thought your appearance was great !!!  Im hooked.. I love QT and usually watch it with a pint and a pizza !,  I too have many opinions,  but because I usually Sky + it,  they are generally heard by the dormant skype camera on top of the TV (probably soon to be monitored by MI5) and some dodgy pigeon walking past the window outside… 

Its refreshing to see someone who is willing to just say things as they should be. WE all know the docs work their nads off for what they do,  do people really think if they were in the same position, they wouldnt do the same thing ? 

You and Griff Rhys for MP’s…. I’d Vote !!!

Victoria Coren at 11:52 am on June 3rd, 2012

  Hi Clive. I don’t know… if you wrote something horrible then it won’t have gone up here. Critical is fine (see Craig’s comment above), but nasty stuff will be edited or deleted because, you know, we want a jolly atmosphere on here. But if it wasn’t nasty then maybe something went wrong in the submitting process and you somehow never posted it?

johnl at 12:38 pm on June 3rd, 2012

since wife shouted “that’s your girl-friend on” (to do with poker and stuff), I was relieved to hear your take on NHS/Doctor pensions didn’t drive us apart (like Steve). Doctors are no way perfect and do earn lots of money, but the main argument seems to be that because of that you don’t need to be fair to them. The more money you earn, the more revenge you can take. By that criterion it would be OK just to shoot Simon Cowell.
OK. Maybe a bad example.
Anyways, thanks for pointing out that this isn’t an argument…even if later comments seemed happy to trail them out again.
And thanks for today’s column…though have to say I find marmalade a tad bitter. Always have.

palladian at 8:50 pm on June 3rd, 2012

Call me a sentimental old softie - few have done so and lived! - but what will most be remembered about this QT was your sporting your engagement ring. As one who can recall your dear Pa as but a jejune new boy on ‘Call My Bluff’, it is lovely to see his dear daughter gearing up for her nuptials. When Jeremy Hunt is a mere distant memory, a doctors’ strike an irrelevance, that will remain.

Clive at 6:15 pm on June 4th, 2012

Well, I don’t think my comments were that horrible, nothing Rod Liddle doesn’t get paid good money for, hmmm, alright, see what you mean.

I could go back over it, but it would be like button-holing the boss the day after the Christmas party, saying, ‘No, what I really meant to say was…’

Matthew Alexander at 12:05 am on June 5th, 2012

Dear Victoria,
  I have just seen part of your QT debate on the Drs pensions (been holed up revising for, guess what, my medical finals!) and I felt very strongly that I had to thank you for such an articulate and educated defence on the problems at hand. Somehow even the BMA can’t counter the spin being produced against the profession, but in under a minute you have put across what a huge number of us are thinking and feeling - which is a great sense of frustration. I’ve just tried to put down a potential junior Dr’s side, but ran out of words, so will just have to again say thank you for putting across a currently little-heard viewpoint so well. I hope we can do the same sometime soon.

Mike at 9:11 pm on June 5th, 2012

RE: the comment you made about doctors having to study for 7 years before they start work… they are not alone! There are loads of people who spend 7 years studying to doctorate level and most end up earning half what a GP does over their career. Some specialist doctors may deserve what they earn - but GPs have it pretty good. 9 to 5 job and practically zero risk of their business failing. Many doctorates from other disciplines e.g pharma and IT work harder in a much risker business environment, for much less. What other privately run business has a guaranteed income stream funded by the taxpayer?

john hope at 12:23 am on June 6th, 2012

I suggest you stop writeing and get cooking bridget jones as you are going to need alot of sausages, our uk econamy is weak we already have 3 million unemployed the hospital school and pension system is over stretched, the inferstructure is in decay and we are failing our young people there comes a time to say look out for us, im sorry its now we have nothing to offer we are in as big a mess as everyone else, And i dont think in the next twent years we will have houseing for anymore people , sorry about my grammar im poorly educated,

MDW at 10:37 am on June 6th, 2012

As always I fell asleep during QT, can you use your power to get them to put it on at 9PM please (nothing to do with your appearance honest)

Every week I seem to hear the first question about government sleaze and the latest cover up but then answers on how Greece can work their way out of their current economic problems - then the show ends.

Dave at 1:21 pm on June 6th, 2012

.. So.. You’re intelligent, funny, beautiful, sexy and Blonde… You’re an Android… Right?

A Doctor at 2:20 pm on June 6th, 2012

Thank you for being brave enough to stick your head above the parapet. To be honest they can take away my pension now if that’s what really needs to happen. All I needed to know was that someone out there who wasn’t medical gets what we go through and what we do. Worse than salaries being reduced and pensions being cut, is the feeling that we aren’t appreciated as the hard working and generally caring professionals that we strive to be and often are.

Del Smith at 2:25 pm on June 6th, 2012

Victoria, I listened carefully to your recent defence of GP’s pensions.
How they trained for seven years, up to their armpits in gore.
But I find it difficult to sympathise.  As a young man from a council estate I spent the first ten years of my working life working in the building trade, up to my armpits in mud not gore. But paying and supporting through my taxes for the training of all students, doctors included. At the end of my payments the doctors set off on a life of comparative luxury living in the houses we built and building the pensions that are beyond our dreams.
As for us, we ploughed on with no pensions and increasing arthritis.
Could it be that you know more doctors than bricklayers?

Del Smith

Jane T at 7:47 pm on June 6th, 2012

I just wanted to add my thanks for your words on the Drs strike.  I am a Dr who actually feels it is a great shame that the first action for 40 years is over our finances rather than directly related to patient care (eg the NHS reforms).  As I predicted the issue is being submerged in a sea of negative publicity without pertinent comparisons with private sector or civil service professionals in roles of similar responsibility (if there are any!?).  But thank you for the support and for highlighting the propaganda persuading the public to attack public sector workers.

Sanj at 9:13 pm on June 6th, 2012

Why does it not surprise me that doctors and their friends and families feel they are worth every penny?  Sometimes it’s important to consider the bigger picture even if it is to one’s own perceived detriment.

DAVID RIGBY at 1:42 pm on June 17th, 2012

Thanks for what you said (and in today’s Observer) about the scandal of Treasury misuse of pension contributions (and their use of NI contributions and Road tax). Over many years they have just used pension contributions as income to the general funds and have not created investment funds (unlike Local government) and now do not want to pay out. It is a scandal and the British public need to be aware of their financial mismanagement. Thanks for pointing that out but it needs to be reinforced.
Thanks for what you are saying on this issue.
Pleased that you and David Mitchell are together. It’s good to have intelligent opposition to the prats who think that they know best.
David Rigby

Victoria Coren

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