Source: Mirror UK
BBC bans all-male panels on comedy shows such as QI and Mock the Week
The director of BBC Television said it was ‘not acceptable’ there were no women on popular comedy programmes
The director of BBC Television has banned all-male panels on comedy shows from now on.
Danny Cohen said that it is “not acceptable” that women have not been present on shows like QI and Mock the Week.
The change follows long-running complaints about the ‘testosterone-fuelled’ nature of shows such as Mock The Week, which is loaded with male regulars with little scope for female guests.
“We’re not going to have panel shows on any more with no women on them,” Cohen said. “You can’t do that. It’s not acceptable.”
His comments come two months after the BBC Trust was reported to have told executives there was “no excuse” for not having more female panelists.
Mr Cohen also said the BBC needed to get more older women on screen.
“We’re getting better,” he told the Observer, citing the example of historian Mary Beard. “But we need to get better.”
In the past, comedy panel shows like QI, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You have been criticised for their male-dominated line-ups.
In the most recent series, all the regular comedians on the most recent series of Mock the Week were men and only five of the 38 guest panelists were women.
The BBC’s entertainment controller, Mark Linsey, said that such programmes would be improved by the mix of sexes. “I’m making it clear to production teams that there’s just no excuse for delivering all-male guest lists,” he said
A BBC spokesman said some panel shows that had been recorded but not yet been broadcast may feature all-male teams, but that all those filmed in the future would include at least one female participant.
“There may be very rare occasions where shows that were already recorded – or whose panels were already booked ahead of the order – still have all-male line-ups, but hopefully the change should really become apparent,” the spokesman said.
The news was met with praise from many female comedians and TV viewers.
Katy Brand, who had her own show on ITV said: “Finally! Thanks you Danny Cohen.”
Controversial comic Frankie Boyle said: “My crazy idea would be that you have 50% women on panel shows and 50% female comedy commissions.”
Kate Kinninmont, chief executive of Women in Film and Television, a group for women working in the industry, said last year that several of these shows had made progress: “People said for years there are no funny women and it was a struggle to get women on shows like Have I Got News for You. But that has improved, as has the number of women on Question Time.”
The move follows criticism from Victoria Wood, who has criticised such male dominated shows, and Jo Brand, who said she no longer considered appearing on Mock The Week.
However in 2012, writer Caitlin Moran said she had been asked to appear on “all the big panel shows” but turned them down because “I refuse to be the token woman”.
“I think that’s a boys’ game that works for boys,” she said. “It’s not like they built it to screw women over, it’s just that boys built it so they made it to work for boys. If I go on there as a token woman, it’s not going to work for me,” she said.
And Radio 4 DJ Libby Purves also questioned the move, saying yesterday: “Hmm. How often will the female be a decorative item, there to giggle at the chaps?”
Other people on Twitter described the move as “positive discrimination” and questioned if there were enough female stand up stars.
Jo Brand has previously highlighted a “practical problem” of supply and demand.
She said: “There are far more male comics than women. When I started, there were about 200 male stand-ups and about 20 female – roughly one woman for every two-and-a-half panel shows.”