Footballer Clarke Carlisle joins Question Time panel
Burnley defender is first footballer to appear on show, but will have Alastair Campbell for support
Modern footballers are not renowned for their perceptive insights on the political issues of the day - but Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle is hoping to strike a blow for the sport's reputation when he becomes the first player to appear on the BBC's Question Time this week.
And while some may sneer at the idea of a footballer rubbing shoulders with David Dimbleby and the other, supposedly more intellectual, panelists, he will have at least one supporter alongside him in the form of former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who is probably Burnley's most famous fan.
Neither is Carlisle a stereotypical footballer, concerned only with cars, nightclubs, Twitter and bling. The 31-year-old is chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, the trade union that protects the rights of players, and is an ambassador for the Kick It Out scheme, which campaigns against racism.
He also has a television pedigree and has proved his intellect on the small screen on more than one occasion. In 2002 Carlisle won an ITV quiz to find Britain's Brainiest Footballer and last year he fulfilled a lifelong ambition by appearing on the Channel 4 quiz show Countdown. He beat the defending champion on his first appearance, saw off a challenger the following day but narrowly lost on his third outing.
Although he admits he is not an expert on current affairs, he told the club website: "I don't consider myself to be a politics buff by any stretch of the imagination but, with the economic crisis, having a young family and the recent election, my wife and I started to take a keener interest and I just hope I can give a layman's perspective on things."
Alongside him on the panel on Thursday night will be Campbell, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, deputy Lib Dem Leader Simon Hughes and former MP and Celebrity Big Brother contestant George Galloway, whose penchant for self-promotion and attention seeking could make Carlisle look like a seasoned parliamentarian.