GIVEN the recent furore over Question Time one might have understood if the new BBC Scotland channel took time to bed in before embarking on Debate Night, its version of QT.

Particularly so after it emerged the man at the centre of the row, failed UKIP candidate Billy Mitchell, had not just appeared on Question Time four times, in breach of the show’s rules, but he had also taken part in a pilot for Debate Night.

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With Mr Mitchell seemingly able to do a Paul McKenna on researchers, it was not impossible that he would turn up again last night when the show made its official debut.

Debate Night producers were on the case, however. As a look at the audience application form showed, the love grandchild of Senator Joseph McCarthy and a top Stasi agent is now in charge of selection. There are more questions, requiring a greater level of detail, than the regular QT form, with applicants asked how they would vote in an indyref2, how they voted in the Scottish Parliament elections (constituency and regional list), and whether they are members of a political party. If it is yes to the latter, they need to specify which party, and whether they have ever held an elected position or worked for a party. Phew. They might as well ask for an armful of blood while they are at it.

Last night’s programme came from Edinburgh. In place of Fiona Bruce there was Stephen Jardine, son of Dumfries, ex-GMTV and Scottish Television. As a frequent stand-in host on BBC Radio Scotland morning shout-fest, Call Kaye, you could see why he had been given the gig.

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Debate Night made the news before last night when it emerged the budget for the show was so small it could not afford to move around the country, like QT. Whatever they have spent the money on, it is not the set. With its purple chairs and faux art it looked like the business class lounge of a cheapo airline. The audience were in cinema-style banked seating which made the audience look tiny. Worse, some of the seats were empty.

But never mind the standard of the seating, what about the quality of the debate? The audience, Jardine informed us, came from all across Scotland, “from Ayrshire to Paisley, Perth and Edinburgh”. In other words, from a bus ride away.

On the panel were three politicians, Deputy FM John Swinney, Labour’s Monica Lennon, and Murdo Fraser for the Scottish Conservatives, and two civilians, the poet Jenny Lindsay and the entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter. Two women to three men, or two to four if you count Jardine: some things never change. No Greens or LibDems; will it be their turn next week?

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The job of the new show, Jardine said in his introduction, was not just to get answers from politicians but to raise the standard of debate, no less. Within a minute, however, Murdo Fraser was talking over Monica Lennon and she was raising her own voice in response. So much for new standards of discourse. It was not long, either, before the politicians on the panel began answering the questions that suited them rather than the ones they had been asked. Jardine pulled a Paxman now and then, possibly to shake himself awake. “What does any of this mean, what are you going to do about it?” he asked Lennon at one point.

Half an hour was spent on Brexit, far too long. The next questions, on sectarianism and a possible teachers’ pay strike, were not matters that would have been raised on a QT from London, so in that respect Debate Night showed its worth, even if nothing new emerged in the discussion.

I would like to say the hour was packed with penetrating questions and illuminating answers, a show that showed QT how such programmes should be done. There were one or two moments worth catching, most of them coming from plain-speaking Sir Tom Hunter, but by and large this was a punishing watch, not least because of the late slot. An 11.45pm finish, on a school night? Why bother committing to a serious programme if it doesn’t have a credible chance of building an audience?

By the time Jardine said goodnight it was time for this Cinderella to head to bed. Cinders at least had her slipper returned; those 60 minutes spent watching Debate Night are never coming back.