QI creator: BBC’s rule over women on panels is tokenism
THE BBC’s insistence that at least one woman should be on every panel show is ‘tokenism’, the creator of QI said.
John lloyd said the comedy quiz featured more women than other panel shows but producers ‘can’t do it all’ when it comes to being inclusive with sex and race.
lloyd, who also produced Spitting Image and Blackadder, said QI once had three women on its panels which he found ‘a bit tokenistic’.
His comments come after the BBC announced in 2014 that every panel show would include at least one woman, after critics slated all-male line-ups on programmes such as Mock The Week.
The 66-year-old told Cheltenham literature Festival: ‘We’re being encouraged to do diversity but there’s lot of different types of diversity – sex, race – we can’t do it all.’
The producer said he had invited more women on to the BBC2 show – such as Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders – but they refused because they didn’t want to ‘look silly’.
He added: ‘I had lunch with lenny Henry the other week and asked him to come on the show, but he wouldn’t agree. You can’t want more black and ethnic minority people coming on and then say no.’
Stephen Fry stepped down from hosting QI last year after 13 years on the show. His replacement, great British Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig, is the first woman to present a mainstream comedy panel show.
lloyd’s wife Sarah, who is director of QI limited, added: ‘ We ask women to come on, but they won’t. You tell me who you’d like to see on the show and I can tell you we’ve asked them. It’s my main aim.’
Since the BBC banned all-male panel shows, Mock The Week – which had a reputation for being male dominated – has regularly included women but usually just one per episode.
In June this year, the BBC2 topical show featured two women on the panels for the first time in the show’s 162-episode, 12-year history.
It comes after BBC found itself at the centre of a sexism row after it published its stars’ wages, which showed a gender pay gap.
Figures released in July showed the top seven earning BBC stars are all men, with no female names in any category above £500,000. A letter signed by more than 40 women in the BBC urged director general lord Hall to ‘correct the disparity’.