Top Gear makes Saudis look liberal, Kirsty Wark tells Independent Bath Literature Festival
The BBC presenter was chairing a discussion about women in public life
Women have more chance of driving a car in Saudi Arabia than they do of getting behind the wheel on Top Gear, said one of the BBC's most prominent presenters yesterday.
Kirsty Wark singled out the popular entertainment shows Top Gear, Strictly Come Dancing and Mock the Week, as well as Question Time, for their male bias and said that broadcasting still had serious issues when it came to giving women a voice.
"There are more women driving in Saudi Arabia than you will ever see on Top Gear. In fact, you actually have more chance of hosting a driving show in Saudi Arabia than you have of hosting Top Gear," said the presenter. "Five out of 38 guest panellists in the last series of Mock the Week were women," she added.
Last month, the BBC's head of programming, Danny Cohen, banned all-male line-ups on comedy panel shows. Question Time has also responded to criticisms of its male-heavy panels lately. On the current series, the proportion of female guests has been 44 per cent. The problem remains that women do not want to appear on the show, said Wark.
"Question Time has made great leaps in terms of putting more women on. But for a long time the reason they wouldn't... go on was that they felt like they could talk very passionately about a single subject, but they couldn't talk about the waterfront, they thought. Men couldn't care less – they just talk about the waterfront.
"Broadcasting has a lot of issues," added the 59-year-old journalist, citing Strictly… as another "unbelievable" example of gender bias. "What is Bruce Forsyth now – 80 odd? And his female co-presenter is in her thirties. Just imagine the reverse – it's never going to happen."
Wark was chairing a discussion about women's role in public life at The Independent Bath Literature Festival. The all-female event for International Women's Day also featured Jane Shepherdson, chief executive of Whistles, the editor-in-chief of Red magazine, Sarah Bailey, and the writer Hadley Freeman. The "hard-won battles" for equality of the 1970s were only the start of the story, said Wark, introducing the debate. "In fact, I think we're only at chapter two of the story."
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Huawei Mate S and Huawei Watch: new products take on iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch
- 2 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 5 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
JK Rowling announces Harry Potter's son is starting at Hogwarts
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
Photographer fights ginger discrimination with vivid portraits of redheads
Akram Khan: Choreographer says dance is 'as important as maths and being a doctor'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up