Political heavyweights arrived at a Finchley secondary school as the BBC filmed a special edition of Question Time paying tribute to Margaret Thatcher last night.

The broadcast was moved from Rochdale to Finchley Catholic High School in Woodside Lane following Baroness Thatcher’s death on Monday.

Headteacher Seamus McKenna said: “We were delighted to be able to help out providing a space for Question Times at such short notice. It was quite a busy schedule but there was a great sense of excitement in the school.

“The production team were excellent with our students and gave them a great insight into the whole production process and getting the set ready.

Students helped out as producers transformed their gym into a television studio before the show’s host David Dimbleby arrived to quiz them on their political knowledge.

Mr McKenna said: “They had to come up with quick responses on the spot – it was a bit nerve wracking for them but good character building.”

In 1988 Baroness Thatcher had visited the school, which was just outside the constituency she served for 30 years, to open a technology building.

Mr McKeena said: “The pupils have been very interested in Margaret Thatcher because she was the constituency MP – there has been lots of discussion with lots of different opinions and different views – and this was further heightened by Question Time.”

A screen was set up in the canteen where many staff and students stayed behind after school to watch the live performance.

The current affairs programme featured a panel of politicians and writers close to Baroness Thatcher during her political career.

They included former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell, Conservative minister Ken Clarke, who was part of the cabinet during Lady Thatcher's reign, former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett, Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee and Lady Thatcher’s authorised biographer Charles Moore.