In Depth

Russell Brand v Nigel Farage: Who came out on top?

Question Time debate was 'the hottest ticket of the panto season' – but it wasn't the big egos who won

Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian turned activist Russell Brand clashed somewhat predictably on last night's BBC's Question Time, with both facing a barrage of online criticism for their comments.

Described by The Guardian's John Crace as "the hottest ticket of the panto season", the much anticipated programme, also featuring Labour minister Mary Creagh, Tory MP Penny Mordaunt and journalist Camilla Cavendish, kicked off with a critique of mainstream politics.

But Brand quickly diverted the conversation and caused a veritable Twitter storm by managing to offend every woman in the studio by interrupting Mordaunt and calling her "love". He quickly apologised for his "sexist language" and said he was "working on it".

Social media users, however, remained unconvinced.

"Excuse the sexist language I'm working on that" WORK HARDER MATE. IT'S NOT THAT HARD. JUST DON'T BE A TWAT. #bbcqt

— Lucy Hunter Johnston (@LucyH_J) December 11, 2014

Brand was then challenged by an audience member to stand as an MP if he felt so strongly about changing the political system, but his quiet response was: "Mate, I'm scared I'd become one of them".

"If someone is having a shot every time Russell Brand calls the audience "mate", they are on the floor," the Daily Telegraph live bloggers pointed out at this point.

Farage meanwhile, was on a "short leash" according to most commentators and was rather subdued throughout the programme – until the immigration question was raised. He said that it wasn't an issue of race, but that the UK was simply "running out of space".  His comments ignited a predictable response from the other panellists, audience members and Twitter.

All white panel again denying racism again #bbcqt

— Sophia Cannon (@UndercoverMutha) December 11, 2014

Is Britain overcrowded? Yes, we have too many Nigel Farages and are overloaded with Russell Brands. Yours two for a tenner. #bbcqt

— fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) December 11, 2014

Yes Nigel, we DO have an ageing population. Imagine if there was a way to bring in more young people from elsewhere... #bbcqt

— Santa M (@sazza_jay) December 11, 2014

One audience member leapt out of her chair calling the Ukip leader a "racist scumbag", while another bellowed "I'm coming for you, Farage." When audience members began turning on each other, the show quickly became "more Jeremy Kyle than Question Time".

Audience out performing guests tonight on @bbcquestiontime

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) December 11, 2014

Meanwhile communities' minister Penny Mordaunt was criticised across social media for her "boring" and "incoherent rambling"

By the time Penny finishes a sentence it's clear she's forgotten the beginning #bbcqt

— Unnamed Insider (@Unnamedinsider) December 11, 2014

Most commentators agreed that Mary Creagh, shadow minister for international development, came out on top, remaining calm and collected throughout the chaotic debate. She came with a good game plane, argues Crace: "make a point succinctly and get out fast while the going was good." It worked well as "no one came close to landing a punch on her. "

Have to say @marycreagh_mp really good on #bbcqt. Smart, warm, principled, clear. Dealt with Farage. Give her big role in election campaign

— Ian Austin (@IanAustinMP) December 11, 2014

Most memorable quotes:

Mary Creagh [to Brand]:  "One of the things that people really don't like is men talking over women on these types of shows, and our voices not being heard."

Russell Brand: "His mates in the City farted and Nigel Farage is pointing at immigrants and the disabled and holding his nose."

"This man is not a cartoon character ... He is a pound-shop Enoch Powell."

Farage: "I’m not the wealthy one on this panel [looking at Brand]."

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