The BBC has announced that shows like QI, Have I Got News for You and Mock the Week, which for years have been extremely white male-dominated, will now be forced to include at least one female panelist per episode. They have said that certain shows, which already have their episodes in the can, won't be forced to go back and re-shoot, but all new filming will have to follow this guideline.
If you're not familiar with the current lineup format of British panel shows, it mostly works like this: they have a recurring host (I'm straining to think of a single one where the host is a woman, by the way), sometimes at least one or two recurring "Team Captains" or regular panelists, and then a small handful of guests. The guests are usually comedians unless they have a specific topic, like sports or politics, in which they might invite someone whose career pertains to that topic. But by and large, it's a forum for comedians to test drive their material and endear themselves to audiences.
In a show like QI, for instance, Stephen Fry has been the host and Alan Davies his "sidekick" for over 10 years. And while there has been some effort made to include regular repeat female guests like Sandi Toksvig or Jo Brand or Sarah Millican, for the most part its guests are from that well-worn cache of male comedians.
Reddit, shockingly, has already thrown a shitfit about this, arguing that it might be sexist, but it's plain and simple fact that while you can easily think of 6 funny men, you'd struggle to think of 6 funny women — proof that this move on the part of the BBC is just another example of affirmative action-style hiring. According to Reddit, at least.
Not that I need to tell any of you this, but it really frustrates me when I hear this line of bullshit. You know why you can think of 6 funny men before you can think of 6 funny women? Because panel shows continually hire and promote men. That's the problem. That's what the BBC is trying to fix. Because comedy clubs favor men. Because television host jobs are given to men.
In fact, you would think that sexists would welcome this with open arms. Surely allowing a larger group of female comedians a little airtime might help their case, since broads just ain't funny — right? So what's the problem? Are they, gosh, afraid of being proved wrong? Or are they just SO committed to some light, low-budget entertainment in the evenings that the presence of even one unfunny woman might ruin their whole night?
In any event, I think this is a good step forward on the part of the BBC, and I'm interested to see where it leads. Do any of you guys regularly watch these types of shows? What do you think of the current band of lady panelists?