The BBC is known for its comedy panel shows: Mock the Week, QI with the popular Stephen Fry, and many more. But these panel shows are also known for another thing — an all-male cast. Men have been dominating this brand of BBC airspace for years, but all of that's about to change because the BBC is banning all-male panel shows. "We're not going to have panel shows on any more with no women on them. You can't do that. It's not acceptable," said Danny Cohen, director of television for the channel.
This move is an excellent victory for women in comedy who have long had to battle the "are women even funny?" stereotype. This is great news for British comediennes, certainly, but it could also be good news for American. Britain's shift in casting will hopefully bring to light just how poorly America is doing when it comes to gender in film. Just last week it was discovered that American actresses see their salaries drop significantly after they hit the ancient age of 34. With the BBC now making a conscious effort to make room for women, we can only hope that this idea will jump the pond and hit our channels the same way.
We're tired of the Kenan Thompson excuse that shows like Saturday Night Live didn't hire any black actresses because "in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready."
SNL has now remedied the situation, but that comes largely in part because the public pushed for the change.
Fortunately, the BBC is determined not only to add female voices to their shows, but diversity in general. "We need to keep introducing new people on screen with new perspectives; we need to take people to different parts of the world," Cohen said.
Now that American BBC fans (and there are a lot, just look at the massive ratings shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who bring in) have seen the stance on women in comedy that Cohen has taken, perhaps they can push other networks to follow suit so we can hire more women, and not just "a token woman" role as writer Caitlin Moran has called it in the past. We want smart, engaging roles instead of airhead roles based on what a woman looks like instead of what she can contribute intellectually. Fingers crossed America gets its act together!