This week we learn that the BBC Trust has ordered its programme commissioners and makers to increase female representation on comedy show panels and the like – see today here, on the website of THE GUARDIAN
Please pardon me for being male, old and set in my ways, but this sort of politically-correct ‘engineering’ really gets my goat.
From where I sit for eight hours a day at the computer, this planet has a basketful of potential life-changing crisis and issues which governments the world over have great difficulty in addressing at all, let alone taking the kind of actions needed to solve them.
In which context, all namby-pamby, do-gooder, ‘nice to have’ tinkerings with everyday life as it is lived by the man (or woman) on the Clapham omnibus in the 21st Century are just a wasteful form of fiddling while Rome burns, as was once the criticism made of the emperor Nero.
The crucial factor for light entertainment shows is whether or not they ‘work’ – and, as regards those coming under the broad heading ‘comedy’, whether they are funny. And, as a general rule, of course, the ratings tend to provide the answers.
To my mind, the concept that supposed minorities, and indeed those held back by the iniquitous conventions and prejudices of history, should be able to wait on the side-lines until some television light entertainment show hits mainstream success – against all the odds, I might add, because for every new programme concept that eventually makes it to air there are two or three thousand more that fall by the wayside – and then demand ‘equal representation’ rights to be involved in it is ludicrous.
The only criteria for being on an entertainment show is a talent to amuse and entertain – the clue in is the description. And – irrespective of colour, race, creed, gender, ability or disability – the rest is irrelevant.
The ratings seem to prove me wrong, but – as an annoying example – the mainstream BBC television hit series Miranda, featuring comedienne Miranda Hart, stands out like a sore thumb.
I’m afraid I find neither Hart, nor her show, the slightest bit funny. It’s about the level of a fifth form attempt to put on an end of term show at some la-dee-dah, jolly-hockey-sticks, fee-paying girls school. What’s interesting is that all the women I know [and maybe this just says more about both me and the women I know than is strictly necessary] all hold to a similar view. They don’t find her remotely funny, in fact they find her intensely annoying.
The only explanation I can offer for the success of Miranda is its scheduling – on a Friday night, immediately before Have I Got News For You, which has a large, cast-iron committed fan base. The period during which Miranda is on is probably when those waiting for Have I Got News For You take a comfort break after completing their dinner and then refill their wine glasses in advance of settling in for Ian Hislop and Paul Merton.
[Speaking of which, as an aside, Have I Got New For You seems to have lost much of its lustre in recent outings. It’s become tired and too content to rest upon its laurels.]