IT IS not very often that the nation focuses its attention on the former North-East pit community of Stanley.

The last time there was so much fuss in the north Durham town was when local boxer Glenn McCrory won the IBF cruiserweight title against Patrick Lumumba, in a fight staged at the Louisa Centre, in Stanley, more than a decade ago.

Now the spotlight is on Stanley again because the town has been chosen as one of the more unlikely venues for the popular BBC television show Question Time.

The Lamplight Arts Centre, formerly Stanley Civic Centre, will rank alongside some of the world's most esteemed venues when presenter David Dimbleby rolls into town with a panel of big-hitting commentators and politicians.

Usually attracting up to three million viewers, the show will take place on Thursday.

A spokesman for Question Time said: "We try to get to as many different venues as we can.

"London and Manchester feature quite a lot so we try to vary where we go.

"It is all about audience participation. It is a show that gives people the chance to question politicians and commentators about the issues of the day."

Derwentside District Council leader Councillor Alex Watson said: "Question Time has never been to Derwentside before. This is excellent news for the district.

"We were approached a few months ago and they had a look at Consett's Empire Theatre and our leisure centres but settled on the Lamplight.

"I suppose we attracted their attention because of all the publicity we have been getting nationwide lately.

"There has been the council's no smoking policy and Antony Hutton, of Consett, who won the Big Brother competition.

"We have hosted a national sports conference and, of course, there was the recent commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the closure of the steelworks.

"The show attracts millions of viewers.

"This is a statement of confidence of the policies we are pursuing in Derwentside and the way we project ourselves."

North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who is backing a campaign for the creation of a town council for Stanley, said: "This is a real coup for Stanley.

"It is finally getting something that Consett has not had."

It is not yet known who the show's guests will be.

Anyone wishing to join the audience of 150 people is asked to contact (01299) 829299.