Questions for Brits about TV shows and comics

Ah - I saw the John Bishop interview, didn’t hear the Kirsty Young one. I will observe, though, that the former was a chat between two comedians, and the latter is a trip down memory lane, playing records as you go, for an older and more conservative (small c) radio audience. So maybe he’s self-censoring for the benefit of the audience.


Yes, that’s very fair. As I recollect, the criticism went along with the effective banning of all-male panel shows by the BBC. There’s a spectrum of such shows and Mock The Week is at the far end. I won’t watch it.


I’ve heard that criticism leveled at Mock The Week - I’m an American, so I watch it on YouTube - and it seems a bit surprising to me, mainly because the mainstays, Dara O Briain and Hugh Dennis, don’t seem to be shock comics in the style of Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr. I know O Briain can go blue - his famous improv on “private browsing” comes to mind - but his standup act is much more observational and even philosophic comedy; as I understand it, he also does a lot of popular science programming.

Maybe the format of “Scenes We’d Like To See”, where the comics have to be aggressive and jump in to get the microphone, works against the female comics. I noticed that Frankie Boyle or Andy Parsons were at the microphone more often than Katharine Harris.

Mock The Week is one of those shows that gives the panellists the questions before they arrive so they can prepare a list of crafted jokes. That makes them all desperate to show off how clever they’ve been. Women comedians often felt like they were token in the 5:1 ratio, and had very little chance of being heard amongst the boys club. This year I noticed they increased the man/woman ratio to 4:2, but they still can only pick them from a limited pool because so many women find the environment on the show to be toxic.

I don’t think Hugh or Dara encourage the aggression, and rarely participate in it, but it’s become the show’s signature style, even if the best parts, as seen in compilation episodes, are usually more benign and off-the-cuff.

My apologies, I was going by your bowdlerizing in the OP.

Not that I can recall, although Never Mind the Buzzcocks started a few months later (remember Mark Lamarr?). HIGNFY goes back to 1990 with the Deayton-Merton-Hislop team, but “laddish” is probably not a completely accurate description.

And note that Angela Barnes is now pretty much a regular on MTW, along with Hugh and Dara and…I forget who the other regular is. They don’t seem to have too much trouble finding a second female comic each week, and by the time they’ve also shoehorned in their token minority/foreigner the panel is pretty much full. They have at least made the effort to change; other shows with male hosts and team captains such as WILTY are unlikely to change (although at least HIGNFY rotates hosts).

Seems to be Ed Gamble, though when it’s not him it’s Ed Byrne, so it’s always at least one of the Eds.

Ed Byrne is, I believe, Dara O’Briain’s best friend.