A LIVELY Swindon audience took politicians to task over the state of the NHS and prejudicial rhetoric as Question Time came to town last night.

The Deanery Academy hosted the latest edition of the BBC’s long-running current affairs programme where members of the public grill members of the government and opposition.

The biggest reaction from the Swindon crowd came when author Lionel Shriver asked what was wrong with calling Muslim women letterboxes –provoking a loud gasp.

A member of the audience said prime minister Boris Johnson’s use of that term had led to her being harassed and attacked in the street.

This came as part of a heated discussion on allegations of racism in the Conservative Party and antisemitism in the Labour ranks.

Medical staff in the audience talked about a lack of funding for hospitals as Labour’s Andy McDonald argued that the NHS was in danger of being dismantled.

Conservative Brandon Lewis repeated a promise of 50,000 extra nurses by 2025, which was met with laughter from the audience, who also groaned when he pledged to ‘get Brexit done’.

A lack of trust in politicians was repeatedly raised by the crowd.

The Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes criticised the spending plans and views of the Labour and Conservative parties while former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas emphasised the need for investment in a Green New Deal.

Deanery principal Linda Culling said: “I’m an avid fan of the programme so it’s phenomenal that the BBC chose to use the school as a venue, we were all very excited about it.

“I emailed the show over a year ago, before the school was even built, offering our theatre as a venue because we can hold events without disrupting the normal school day.

“Earlier this month, I got a response saying ‘sorry for the short notice but is the venue still available?’

“The look on the children’s faces when they heard that a BBC show was being filmed here was amazing. Some of them were taken round to see the outside broadcast vans and the incredible production equipment.

“It’s led to discussions about elections and democracy which are subjects that are not usually on the radar of Year 7 pupils.

“A week ago, in that same theatre, the Diocese of Bristol was the first diocesan synod to declare a climate emergency. I’d hoped to ask the panel a question about what they would do to help the environment but did not get picked.”

Question Time last filmed in Swindon in February 2014, when David Dimbleby chaired a debate between philosopher Roger Scruton, Jeanette Winterson and then-MPs Philip Hammond, Liz Kendall and Charles Kennedy.

MORE: A peek behind the scenes