THE spotlight shone on Winchester yesterday evening as BBC Radio 4's Any Questions? was broadcast from Winchester University.

A packed audience listened to the panel answer five questions on the climate emergency, gay rights, Islamic terrorists in prison, Brexit and the political landscape, and the future of the BBC.

The panel was former Southampton Itchen MP John Denham, now a professor at Southampton University; Lord Deben, the former Conservative minister John Gummer; left-wing Guardian columnist Owen Jones and right-wing Sun columnist Olivia Utley.

If show producers were hoping for political fireworks they would have been disappointed as the 50 minutes comprised largely thoughtful debate with only the last question sparking anything heated.

Firstly, Andrew Smith asked the panel about the climate summit in Glasgow and Owen Jones got loud applause by saying it was not about climate 'change' but a climate 'emergency', and a bigger threat to civilisation "than Brexit".

Sylvia Peach, a former local JP, asked about Government plans to hold Islamic terrorists in prison for longer.

John Denham pointed out that there were 1,000 radicalised prisoners in UK jails, but only 200 were in prison for terrorism-related offences. The probation system was "in chaos" following Government funding cuts.

Lord Deben pointed out that the UK locks up twice as many people as France or Germany. Do we feel twice as safe as in Paris or Berlin? he asked.

Caroline Horrill, leader of the Conservative group on Winchester City Council, asked whether Brexit has changed the landscape for political parties, with the Tories winning once rock solid Labour seats in the Midlands and the North.

Olivia Utley said the Conservatives at the General Election had better understood than Labour the reasons for Brexit and been able to capture former socialist strongholds.

The last questioner, Elizabeth Slinn asked about the proposal to decriminalise the non-payment of the BBC licence fee. Former Tory minister Lord Deben joined with Owen Jones and John Denham to defend the licence fee as the best way to guarantee a high-quality public broadcasting service. Mr Jones asked: "Do we want Fox News to take over? That is what we are taking about," referring to the right-wing station in the USA.

Ms Utley said the licence fee stemmed from 1946 and was no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century when most young people did not watch the BBC.

The first-ever episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme was broadcast from Winchester Guildhall in October 1948 and returned to the city in the mid-1990s and then in 2008 to celebrate its 60th anniversary at Henry Beaufort School and again in 2011, when it was broadcast from Kings Worthy Primary School.

Any Questions? is a topical discussion programme presented by Chris Mason in which a panel of personalities from the worlds of politics, media and elsewhere are asked questions by the audience, never seeing the questions in advance.