Mock The Week under fire again

Now report highlights lack of women

Mock The Week has been criticised for the second time in a day for not putting enough women on screen.

The panel show – along with Question Time and QI – has been criticised for featuring only ‘token’ female faces.

The comments come in a report commissioned by the BBC for the Creative Diversity Network, primarily looking at the portrayal of older people in the media.

Many of those questioned for the research were keen to raise examples of female newsreaders or entertainment presenters who had lost their jobs allegedly due to their age and replaced with what were seen as less qualified but younger, more attractive women. They contrasted this with older male presenters such as David Attenborough and Bruce Forsyth.

The report added: ‘Related to this, some panel shows were also criticised for rarely having women represented or only having “token women” on their programmes. Comedy shows, such as QI or Mock the Week, as well as current affairs programmes such as Question Time were implicated in this.’

It also looked at how various age groups were depicted on screen, and while concluding that the portrayal of both old and young people was not always flattering: ‘There was acceptance that programme quality should come first and this can mean that negative, narrow or inaccurate representation can be appropriate in the right context, such as entertainment programmes and comedy.’

And most viewers felt there was a difference between comedies that were broadly sympathetic to older people – such as Last Of The Summer Wine and One Foot In The Grave – and those aimed at younger people, which were seen as ‘negative and inaccurate and therefore less acceptable and less amusing’.

Primarily, though, viewers often felt that older people should have a more central role in comedies, complaining that they are often peripheral or token figures; ‘props for other stories’ rather than the central character.

The report came as Tory MP Nadine Dorries 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.’

Over the past seven years of Mock The week, just 45 of the panelists have been women – or 9.7 per cent of the total.

Published: 31 Jan 2012

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