Comics quit Comedy Central's all-female panel show | Sophie Duker and Kemah Bob walk off Yesterday, Today And The Day Before in censorship row

Comics quit Comedy Central's all-female panel show

Sophie Duker and Kemah Bob walk off Yesterday, Today And The Day Before in censorship row

Two hosts of Comedy Central’s new female-led topical panel show have quit after just one episode in a row over censorship.

Sophie Duker and Kemah Bob have both stepped down from Yesterday, Today And The Day Before, citing ‘unacceptable levels of last-minute interference’ from executives.

Duker said she was put into ‘several compromising positions’ over the monologue that she wrote for the show.

As broadcast, her stand-up routine joked mainly about the controversial new Bill that would clamp down on protesting in the UK, with a brief mention of the Glaswegians who stopped a deportation operation in their street.

But writing on social media she said she had also spoken about Israeli-Palestinian violence in Jerusalem and antisemitism among liberals, which did not make the final cut.

For most of the hour, Yesterday, Today And The Day Before focussed on lighter  topics such as  TikTok’s job recruitment agency,  a new machine that allows you to breathe through your backside, and actor Laurence Fox’s plans for an ‘anti-woke’ pub.’

 Duker explained that she was unhappy about the compromises she had to make during recording in a lengthy post on  Instagram.

She wrote ‘If I am speaking as me, in my own voice, about such important topics, I must either have written what I am saying or feel comfortable that I fully believe and understand the content and message of the speech I’m given.’

'‘Measures have already been put in place to avoid what happened to me happening again, but the fact that it occurred at all means that I do not think returning to host is sensible for me

‘I hope incidents like these prompt the gatekeepers to reflect upon which power structures they are serving and reinforcing and what kind of talent they are failing to retain.’

The programme features a revolving panel of hosts, with Duker co-presenting the first episode with Suzi Ruffel and Maisie Adams.

Both the other comics return for tonight’s show, but Kemah Bob, who had been scheduled to co-host, quit ‘in solidarity with my friends/colleagues and the people of Palestine’.

She said that she was taking a stand in protest over the way Duker was ‘mistreated by trying to do what she was hired to do – use her voice’.

Losing two outspoken women of colour will be an embarrassment to the show, which was keen to trumpet  its ‘fresh and unique take on all that's happened in the world’ featuring lesser-heard voices.

Both Duker and Bob stressed that they also supported their colleagues who decided to stay with the programme.

Tonight’s episode, which airs at 9pm, will feature Ola Labib and Ria Lina as co-hosts. Four further episodes have also been commissioned.

Chortle has approached both Comedy Central and programme-makers Rumpus Media for comment about the comedians’ departure from Yesterday, Today And The Day Before, but neither has yet responded.

Here are comic's full statements, as released on social media:

Sophie Duker

‘I’ve chosen not to return as a host of new Comedy Central panel show Yesterday, Today And The Day Before because of things that went down during filming of the first episode. There’s been a bit of unhelpful speculation about why I and others have left, so here’s some detail.

‘In my topical host monologue I attempted to highlight oppressive governments across the globe clamping down on civilians’ right to protest, related recent events in Al-Aqsa mosque and Kenmure Street [where Glaswegians blocked a deportation operation], called out well-meaning liberals and lefties who claim to be anti-racist yet share and amplify anti-Semitic material, spoke about the sinister new PCSC [Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts] bill and took some (fairly tame TBH swipes) at a textbook posh boy prime minister permanently smirky Home Secretary and notorious cis-woman J. K. Rowling.’

‘I know my shit from both sides of the camera, having worked substantially in production, since 2013, and naturally my piece wasn’t written in isolation - it had already been meticulously fact-checked, researched and edited for tone and balance days before the record.

‘Despite this, several compromising positions I was put in on the day of the record due to the content of my monologue involved unusual and unacceptable levels of last-minute interference.

‘If I am speaking as me, in my own voice, about such important topics, I must either have written what I am saying or feel comfortable that I fully believe and understand the content and message of the speech I’m given.

‘Measures have already been put in place to avoid what happened to me happening again, but the fact that it occurred at all means that I do not think returning to host is sensible for me

‘I have not and would never ask or encourage anyone to take a stand by quitting a whole job – get that money, sis - but I'm still awed by the bravery and selflessness shown by the other women of colour who have chosen not to continue their relationship with the show, when minimising, ignoring or normalising what happened would have been all too easy

‘It should not fall to anyone -  let alone the most marginalised - to make these kind of decisions, giving up income, opportunities, contacts and credits to safeguard their integrity.

I hope that soon our industry will have the nipples to build braver, more empathetic spaces that ring uncomfortable/nuance conversations into the light rather than keeping them in the shadows.

‘I hope incidents like these prompt the gatekeepers to reflect upon which power structures they are serving and reinforcing and what kind of talent they are failing to retain.

‘I love being stupid on set and stages and I can't wait to do more of it, hopefully alongside many of the same people I started this particular adventure with.’

- via @sophiedukebox

Kemah Bob

‘Last week I made the choice to leave a cool new female-led show in solidarity with my friends/colleagues and the people of Palestine. While I feel production has learned from the mistakes made during [the first episode], and I have been a sure the team will be better in the future, it is in protest that I say they will have to do better without me.

‘I stand with the Palestinian people. You have been let down by our silence, cowardice, ignorance and confusion long enough. To require a fact-based analysis and meet compliance is standard with any topic. But to omit the subject completely, as it was from the broadcast, is what I found unconscionable. It is because this issue appears to be so difficult to discuss, that we as a news show with resources such as researchers and fact-checkers, de-mystify it

‘I stand by my friends who left the show who as women of colour are uniquely positioned to understand the importance of highlighting events like this. And specifically Sophie Duker who was in my eyes mistreated by trying to do what she was hired to do – use  her voice. I trust her ability to shed light on this issue whilst denouncing anti-Semitism

‘I stand with my friends who continue to work on the show – all of them deserve to be platformed seen and celebrated.

‘For the sake of humanity we've got to operate at a higher level of morality. I'm not saying I know it all, but I'm doing my best to educate myself and now I would've learned something if that segment wasn’t cut short.

‘I'm doing my best to make decisions that empowerment and those around me to be the change they want to see in the world. Leaving with one. Sharing this is another.

‘When discussing this issue, a dear friend quoted Audre Lorde, "the master's tools will never dismantle the master’s house" We can’t tell them what to do in their house. We can find the door tho.’

- via @kemahbob

Published: 27 May 2021

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