It’s long been a personal annoyance of mine, the lack of comediennes on panel shows. Though this country has produced a swathe of top female comedians, of the comics with the most visibility on television a good 80% of them are still male. The reaction by some might be that there just aren’t as many female comedians out there, but that’s just not true. At the grass-roots level, the divide between the sexes on the comedy circuit is much more equal, so why isn’t that the case higher up?
Detractors are saying that there shouldn’t *have* to be these rules in place, that women should just increase their presence on these shows naturally. It’s 2014 however; in an age of enlightened equality, why hasn’t this actually happened yet? Surely this is down to a ‘boys’ club’ mentality currently present in this loop and distaste from female comedians having to battle against a band of ‘lads’ like a young girl holding her own against her older brother and his mates? Comedian Steve Mack said recently that some women lack the competitive spirit required on these panel shows; the answer to that is simple – employ competitive women, don’t mar all women with the same brush of non-competitiveness. As always, the best person should be employed for the job, but clearly an enforced step toward equalisation of the sexes has needed to be enforced in an attempt to break this long-standing cycle. An “at least one woman” rule has had to be introduced because of long-standing historical male-dominance in comedy, but you’ll never hear of an “at least one man” rule, because guidelines like that will never need to be introduced. Some people may call it positive discrimination, but when any workforce is woefully unbalanced, surely every effort should be made to right this?
If the Director of Television at the BBC feels that guidelines need to be put in place to ensure that producers mend their ways and create equal opportunities for women in TV panel shows, then I think that shows that it’s not just ardent feminists like myself who recognise the problems with the format. With a larger role-call of female comedians beginning to filter through the studio doors, I’m thoroughly looking forward to a whole host of women climbing their way into this loop. It might even make me watch these TV shows a little more regularly too. Imagine THAT! Increased viewing figures not in spite of, but BECAUSE of, the increase of women on the panels. Controversial eh?