Mock the Week presenter says corporation should not legislate for ‘token woman’ in attempt to tackle gender imbalance
The comedian Dara Ó Briain has criticised the BBC’s ban on all-male lineups for panel shows, saying the move will make female guests appear as the “token woman”.
The Mock the Week presenter said more emphasis should be placed on tackling gender inequality in other areas, such as “women in computer coding”.
“I wish a tenth of the energy that was put into the women-on-panel-shows debate was put into women in computer coding, in which there are hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe, and 11% of them are done by women,” he told the Radio Times.
“It seems a more sensible challenge than these 300 people [in stand-up comedy] and how they are represented.”
Ó Briain’s intervention comes after the BBC director of television, Danny Cohen, announced that the corporation would ban all-male panel programmes in an attempt to address the gender imbalance on shows such as Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You.
The comedian said the corporation should have “evolved” instead of “legislating for token woman”.
Ó Briain told the Radio Times: “I wouldn’t have announced it, is what I’d say, because it means [comedians] Katherine Ryan or Holly Walsh, who’ve been on millions of times, will suddenly look like the token woman.
“It would have been better if it had evolved without showing your workings, if you know what I mean. Legislating for token women isn’t much help.
“A certain number of women want to go into comedy and they should be cherished and nurtured, but you’re not going to shift the fact that loads more men want to do it.”
Appointed BBC director of television in April last year, Cohen announced the blanket ban on all-male comedy panels in an interview with the Observer this month. “We’re not going to have panel shows on any more with no women on them. You can’t do that. It’s not acceptable,” he said.
Source: The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/25/dara-o-briain-bbc-ban-men-only-panel-shows
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