Where are the female comedians fronting travel shows? | Anger at TV's huge gender bias

Where are the female comedians fronting travel shows?

Anger at TV's huge gender bias

TV commissioners have come under fire for never making travel shows featuring female comedians.

Dozens of mle comics have been sent to exotic locations in recent years, but only one woman, Sue Perkins, who travelled the Mekong river and to Calcutta for the BBC.

The disparity was revealed after comedian London Hughes tweeted that none other than Whoopi Goldberg had agreed to do a travel show with her – but they couldn’t get a broadcaster interested. 

Mock The Week regular Tiff Stevenson then revealed that she had pitched a show in which she and Meera Syal would travel to artists Frida Kahlo’s Blue House in Mexico, but again drew a blank.

She added: ‘I also pitched female comics doing travel show together back in 2015 and couldn’t get uptake. It’s a joke.’

Stevenson then distributed a list of male comics who have fronted recent TV travel shows,.

John Bishop, Micky Flanagan, Al Murray, Romesh Ranganathan, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Billy Connolly, Paul Merton, Leigh Francis as Keith Lemon, Ade Edmondson, Griff Rhys Jones, Karl Pilkington (also featuring Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant) and David Baddiel.

Ranganathan has also had a travel show with his mum, as have Russell Howard and Baz Ashwanny; while Jack Whitehall has had two Netflix series with his father Michael.

There have also been pairs of travelling male comedians: Ed Byrne and Dara O Briain; Joel Dommett and Nish Kumar; Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon; Sean Lock and Jon Richardson; Frank Skinner and Lee Mack; Miles Jupp and Elis James.

Richard Ayoade also hosts Channel 4’s Travel Man, although that features male and female guests

The lack of female-led shows has not been for the want of trying, as several performers came forward to reveal their rejected proposals.

Jenny Eclair said: ‘I’ve been fuming about this for years - pitched all sorts of ideas going back decades now. I reckon the time has come though, it’s getting silly.’ 

Gina Yashere said she made a trailer of her travelling round Asia with her father-law, making the combination of ‘black British lesbo and 75-year-old Bronx Jew’.

But she tweeted: ‘No one wanted it. 6 months later, rich white male comic and his rich white Dad on Netflix going to the same countries. Staying in nice hotels… obv WAY more interesting…'

Sofie Hagen said she had planned to travel the country in a caravan with Susan Calman talking about mental health. But despite the idea proving popular with her podcast listeners, it failed to materialse.

Katy Brand added that she, too, has pitched several ideas, and later added that today's social media discussions had inspired her to repitch Bawdy Women, a female-fronted travel show following in the footsteps of The Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales.

Dara O Briain lent his voice to the calls for more women fronting travel shows, saying: ‘While I would love to do another travelogue, I have said more than once to producers that 3 Women And A Boat would totally work. You could cast it a million ways and, also, people just like looking at helicopter shots of boats.’

Stevenson, who has been driving the issue on Twitter, added: ‘I feel sad at ever-growing list of women who have pitched and been denied. 

‘Channels/commissioners should know the huge market for this. Travel is very different for women let alone the fact we’ve all come up with different/cool ways of packaging it. It’s unacceptable.’

Published: 2 Jan 2019

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