MP: Mock The Week proves BBC is sexist

Fewer than 1 in 10 panelists are female

Tory MP Nadine Dorries has cited Mock The Week’s male bias as part of her ongoing campaign against sexism in the BBC.

She tweeted last night: ‘Not a single woman on Mock the Week, not one, two panels plus chair, all male #bbcsexism.’

She was commenting about a repeat of an episode, originally broadcast in October, which featured Ed Byrne, Stewart Francis, Chris Addison and Adam Hills alongside regulars Andy Parsons and Hugh Dennis.

However, she did not find much support among her 1,800 followers, with Daniel Jennings saying: ‘Do you seriously think the BBC went out there [sic] way to have no women on mock the week’ and James McGregor telling her: ‘I'd stick to talking absolute horse shit about abortion instead.’

But it also prompted the usual sarcastic comment such as: ‘That is because the team with the woman in it always loses’ and ‘Might be cos there aren't many women in comedy world, and even fewer are actually funny.’

Chortle has analysed the line-ups over all ten series of Mock The Week, going back to 2005, and found that fewer than ten per cent of the panellists have been women. Taking host Dara O’Briain into account as well, just 8.3 per cent of people appearing on the show are women.

The fact that all the regulars are male means the figures are inevitably skewed towards men. However in the first two series there was always one woman among the three guests – a record that has never been equalled in subsequent series. And there has never, in 77 shows, been an episode in which two women have appeared.

Nonetheless, most female comics who have achieved a certain level on the circuit have made it to the show, Gina Yashere is the woman with the most appearances – eight – while Jo Brand has appeared six times. Jo Caulfield, Zoe Lyons and Andi Osho have four apiece.

Host O’Briain has previously said: ‘There is a very small representation of women stand-ups on Mock the Week, but that’s because women just don’t do stand-up. A few do it, and a few fucking good ones do it. But there’s a 90 per cent, 10 per cent split the entire way down the industry, from the Edinburgh Festival to the open mic level.

‘Every [panel] show I’ve done we’ve torn our hair out trying to find female comics and there is no industry more hungry for women to be involved. But there just aren’t that many female stand-ups.’

Earlier this month, Ms Dorries called for the licence fee to be withheld until the BBC ‘get its house in order’ on what she called the ‘sexism inherent not only in the BBC but throughout the broadcasting arena and journalism’.

She pointed out that there was only one daytime presenter on Radio 1 or Radio 2 and that only one in six voices heard on Radio 4’s Today programme – both contributors and presenters — are women’s.

Dorries is an outspoken figure, having called for the jobless who tweet too much to lose their benefits. A devout Christian who says ‘I am not an MP for any reason other than because God wants me to be’, she has also campaigned for the abortion time limit to be reduced and called for organisations that carry out abortion to be blocked from providing counselling services. Dubbed ‘Mad Nad’ by her critics, she has also been investigated over her expenses claims over her second home.

How Mock The Week’s panelists break down

Series one:
Five women in five shows: 17 per cent

Series two:
Six women in six shows; 17 per cent

Series three:
Three women in six shows: 8 per cent

Series four:
Three women in five shows: 10 per cent

Series five:
Seven women in 11 shows: 11 per cent

Series six:
Six women in 11 shows: 9 per cent

Series seven:
Five women in 12 shows: 7 per cent

Series eight:
Three women in five shows: 10 per cent

Series nine:
Four women in ten shows: 7 per cent

Series ten:
Six women in 11 shows: 9 per cent


45 women in 77 shows: 9.7 per cent
Or, including host Dara O’Briain, 8.3 per cent of people appearing on the show are female.

Figures exclude compilations and specials.

Published: 31 Jan 2012

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