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One woman on all BBC comedy panel shows - I'm not sure what I think

(88 Posts)
breatheslowly Tue 11-Feb-14 20:39:22

Apparently all BBC comedy panel shows will have a woman on them reported here.

I really don't know whether this is a step in the right direction. It seems at the moment that when shows have a woman on the panel, they only ever have one. I think that this policy might improve things (by having at least one). But I think it might entrench the tokenism of having only one woman on each show, in a "we've booked our woman, who else are we going to have on" way.

I also sometimes wonder whether there is an element of racial tokenism in comedy panel shows, where you tend not to get more than one comedian from an ethnic minority.

TheFutureSupremeRulersMum Tue 11-Feb-14 20:47:02

I read two interesting articles about this today. This one in the Guardian, by a comedian I hadn't heard of, saying she wants to get by on merit. Whilst I understand the sentiment I do wonder whether they need to enforce this policy of at least one woman to break through and make it normal to see women panellists regularly and thus letting future women get there on merit because people expect to see women equally represented. I don't think I've put that very well. I do agree with her point that the token female if often there for reasons other than intellect or wit.

I also read Robin Ince's blog about it. I like the way he said he has gained from positive discrimination for years and therefore supports it for others.

It would be nice to see HIGNFY or QI have a majority of women panellists on occasion. In the early nineties HIGNFY had two women guests a week several time.

Starballbunny Tue 11-Feb-14 20:54:02

All well and good as long as we see lots of Jo brand, Sue Perkins and some new faces, but not if we see lots of Sarah Millican.

PenguinsDontEatKale Tue 11-Feb-14 20:54:26

The tokenism thing is a worry.

I am not convinced by the 'I want to get there on merit' argument. Because if women were given a fair crack of the whip, you'd surely not get so many panels with no women. So at the moment it seems like merit isn't enough to get you there if you are a woman.

TheFutureSupremeRulersMum Tue 11-Feb-14 20:56:03

I think I would prefer is they had said 30% of guests across a series should be women.

JuliaScurr Tue 11-Feb-14 20:58:07

women should refuse to appear as the only one

TheFutureSupremeRulersMum Tue 11-Feb-14 21:00:42

That would be really interesting Julia. It could really force the production companies hands if the usual suspects on panel shows (Sue Perkins, Sandi Tosvig, Victoria Coren, Sarah Millican, Jo Brand etc) signed up to that.

JuliaScurr Tue 11-Feb-14 21:06:57

Equity should have a campaign, too

breatheslowly Tue 11-Feb-14 21:13:06

That's a really interesting idea Julia.

The existing tendency to only have one woman per show (if that) must mean that these women don't actually meet each other very often backstage. I wonder whether the informal networking and mentoring that is common in many professions doesn't happen between women in comedy in the same way.

Lottapianos Tue 11-Feb-14 21:56:53

Great idea Julia. I'm in favour of positive discrimination - the old boys club needs a huge kick in the arse, we can't just rely on things to change through magic and goodwill

Freyalright Tue 11-Feb-14 23:11:24

If the usual women panelists refuse. You will easily fill the panel with other women. There are plenty of comedians on the circuit and writers looking for a break on TV. It would be good to see some new talent given a go. Brand and Perkins don't bring much to the table.

sashh Wed 12-Feb-14 06:33:59

* I wonder whether the informal networking and mentoring that is common in many professions doesn't happen between women in comedy in the same way.*

Even with only 1 woman this will increase because things like QI are filmed in blocks of 3 so at least 3 women back stage.

Hexbugsmakemeitch Wed 12-Feb-14 06:44:19

Julia I believe that Caitlin Moran does just that.

She won't be used as a token woman.

CaptainCunt Wed 12-Feb-14 07:01:26

I'd also prefer average 30% across the board but this is a good start. Merit clearly isn't working.

JumpingJackSprat Wed 12-Feb-14 07:01:51

I think any women on these panels shows is a good thing but some just are not very good in the same way some men are not very good - shappi khorsandi I'm looking at you. No doubt it is harder for women to get into comedy - I wonder how women fare on the comedy club circuit? As that's where they need to be able to make a living as do men. If you can't impress with a live audience night after night then you can't really be a famous mainstream comedian. Channel 4 seem to be pretty good at getting women onto the panel shows - 8 out of 10 cats and would I lie to you always seems to be well represented and I don't see them making a massive song and dance about it?

scallopsrgreat Wed 12-Feb-14 07:42:00

Why not 50% of guests. You know actually achieve equality. Radical I know. What am I thinking of

This is all just s bit benevolent and men still maintaining privilege but we'll let the little ladies know we're thinking about them.

CaptainGrinch Wed 12-Feb-14 07:53:45

As long as they put funny female comedians on the shows they'll be alright.

I have no idea what percentage of comedians are female, but it'd make sense to up the number on shows to match (assuming the women want to appear in the first place) - so if 30% of comedians are female, I'd like to see that many on the shows......

CaptainGrinch Wed 12-Feb-14 07:54:38

at least that many on shows....

WhoWasThatMaskedWoman Wed 12-Feb-14 07:58:10

Within Science Fiction conventions (traditionally male dominated, obvs) the phrase in the air is Panel Parity. All conventions have been under pressure to achieve this and all have felt required to produce a statement on what they're doing and how well they've progressed. Paul Cornell (witty guest, much in demand) blogged about it here.

WhoWasThatMaskedWoman Wed 12-Feb-14 07:59:57

And bear in mind that not all guests need to be standup c

WhoWasThatMaskedWoman Wed 12-Feb-14 08:01:19

Standup comedians. Several of the shoes in question (eg HIGNFY) have non-comedian guests.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 12-Feb-14 08:11:34

The News Quiz on R4 quite often has more than one female panellist, in addition to Sandi chairing it. The 'regular panellists' are 5 men and 4 women so it's doing better than most and proves it can be done. Perhaps it's a bit easier on the radio for some reason?

ErrolTheDragon Wed 12-Feb-14 08:15:59

'Several of the shows in question (eg HIGNFY) have non-comedian guests.'

yes - in that instance, the regular Ian Hislop isn't a 'comedian' as such. Sometimes Paul Merton is the only person on it who is a comedian.

devilinside Wed 12-Feb-14 09:01:08

I think there are some really funny older women who just don't get a look in on Television, the bigger woman from Kim and Aggie (is it Kim?) She is hilarious, and other older women that have appeared on reality TV shows, and are genuinely funny. They never appear as panelists.

Creeping Wed 12-Feb-14 09:06:02

I think the demand that it's fine to have women comedians on the shows as long as they're funny is telling. Do we judge the men comedians on the shows like that? No, we just accept that they're comedians, who we may or may not find funny.

I believe that this is why women are not getting to be on shows as much, and why they are not getting the success they deserve as much as men. They are judged a lot more critically than men.

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