Instead of a boorish line-up of testosterone heavy, self-opinionated satirists we’re going to have some women thrown into the mix. Proper women. Not Lilly Savage or Dame Edna. But real bona fide women. Comediennes.
I’m sure this new stance has nothing at all to do with the recent slash and burn effect of Operation Yewtree on the BBC’s standing as a noble bastion for equality and fairness. This is something that has bugged the BBC for a long time; it’s something they have always wanted to address and by golly they are finally going to do it.
Move over David Mitchell and Dara O’Briain – here come the girls.
And I think this is fine. This is a good move.
Except a few writers / journalists / commentators have asked the question: are women going to be asked to appear on these shows because they are funny or because they are women? If it’s the latter then is gender equality really being served?
But, the thing is, how does one judge “funniness”? How is it determined and measured? Because, to be honest, a lot of the male contestants on these unspecified panel shows don’t strike me as being particularly funny at all. Ross Noble, Johnny Vegas, et al leave me cold. So were they invited to be contestants because they were funny or just because they were men and “big TV names”?
Because aren’t there possibly more male big TV names than female big TV names in the first place simply because showbusiness, like every other industry, is traditionally weighted in favour of unthinkingly promoting male talent over female talent every chance it gets?
My point is, if nobody is asking “are they funny” of the male contestants before inviting them onto a panel show then should it be seen as a deal breaker for a comedienne? Why is the question even being asked? If they are professional comediennes, making money and a career out of performing their own comedy routines, surely that is the only prerequisite answered?
Humour is subjective. There is no way to benchmark it. At the end of the day these shows are simply star vehicles; there are a means of exposure for up-and-coming and established artists. And if women are being under-represented then that is wrong and it needs addressing.
Are they funny?
We viewers at home should have the right and the opportunity to judge for ourselves. All-male panel shows deny everybody that opportunity.