The National:

QUESTION Time viewers in Scotland have had a few bones to pick with the BBC recently.

Politicians from the country’s leading party, and Westminster’s third largest, are often nowhere to be seen. Then there were the repeated appearances of former Ukip candidate, Billy Mitchell, on the flagship political panel show and the edited SNP response to his angry Unionist rant.

READ MORE: Question Time's angry Unionist threatens to 'blow the lid on the BBC'

But this week, as the programme came to Elgin, it was a chance for the broadcaster to prove its critics wrong.

If that was the intention, things didn’t go to plan.

Viewers have panned the broadcaster on social media after it emerged a former Tory MSP appeared as part of the show's audience.

Former Conservative MSP, Mary Scanlon, represented the Highlands and Islands region at Holyrood between 1999 and 2006 and 2007 and 2016.

She was allowed to speak for almost a minute about the future of the Conservatives and the need for a UK leader that would unite the party and the country.

SNP MP Stewart McDonald spotted Scanlon, sparking a fresh row over the BBC's vetting process for the show.

He asked: “Why is former Tory MSP Mary Scanlon – 1999 to 2016 – pretending to be an audience punter on #BBCQT?”

MSP Jenny Gilruth added: “Why is Mary Scanlon, former Tory MSP, being allowed to ask questions as if she’s a normal punter on #BBCQT? Outrageous.”

Fortunately for the BBC, a knight in Union Jack-draped armour came to its defence. Tory MSP Edward Mountain, replying to McDonald, said: "I think, as she is no longer an MSP, that she is just a voter. I also know she will have been through the audience vetting process."

That’s reassuring.

His point was somewhat undermined when Twitter users spotted a few more suspicious faces.

Moray Conservative and Unionist councillors Frank Brown and Claire Feaver and treasurer Jane Lax were all seen in the audience.

The application form for the programme requires prospective guests to say whether they have previously been on the show, and when.

Guests must also reveal who they would be most likely to vote for in a General Election, how they voted in the EU referendum, and whether they are a member of a political party.

The BBC had come under fire before the show even aired for a pro-Unionist panel – which featured Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Scottish Labour leader Richard LeonardEdinburgh West MP Christine Jardine of the LibDems, Tory MP Bim Afolami and Scottish lawyer Eilidh Douglas, a Tory Brexiteer and Amnesty International UK vice-chair.

Responding to fierce criticism, a BBC spokesperson said: “Question Time does not bar people from its audience because they have held elected office or are political activists.

“There is a selection process to ensure a range of views are heard and last night’s QT audience included supporters of different political parties, including the SNP.”

READ MORE: Greens hit out at BBC over 'anti-independence' Question Time bias

Scots took to social media to express their exasperation with the broadcaster.

The decision to hold the show in the traditional Tory stronghold is now also being questioned. 

Once again, the BBC has a lot to answer for.