Replace 'knackered old male comics' with 'tidal wave' of female talent, says Jenny Eclair

Eclair warned against filling seats with 'token' female celebrities.

The comedian Jenny Eclair has called for “knackered old male comics” who present television panel shows to be replaced by a “tidal wave” of new female talent.

Last week Danny Cohen, the BBC Director of Television, pledged to end the male domination of comedy panel shows, such as Mock The Week.

But whilst the BBC executive said it was no longer acceptable to have all-male panels, Ms Eclair, a former Perrier comedy award winner who began her stand-up career more than 30 years ago, warned against filling seats with “token” female celebrities.

Ms Eclair argued that male comedians of a certain age are rewarded with plum presenting roles, whereas older women are not allowed the same opportunities.

Noting that Rob Brydon is to host a new BBC1 Saturday night entertainment game show, she said: “It is a prime-time show but even in afternoons all those knackered old male comics whose knees have gone have got all these lovely quiz shows. Please, can we have one of those?”

Ms Eclair, 53, questioned the qualifications for the women who are invited to appear on panel shows. “Why do they book people like Jamelia and Carol Vorderman?,” she asked, speaking on Radio 4’s The Media Show.

“We don’t want that tokenism,” she said. “The last thing Danny Cohen wants, I presume, is that every female comic in the land, when they’re watching a TV comedy panel game, sees a token woman, be she a presenter or pop star. We roll our eyeballs as far back as they can possibly go and say ‘Please, that is just putting us back hundreds of years.’”

There was no need to book celebrity figures she added. “Suddenly we’ve got this wave of great new female comics. There are loads of them doing good work,” she said. “Is it that women can’t be trusted? That they’re going to burst into tears?...Women are in comedy. I don’t think it is right to deprive women of their right to their fair share of seats on comedy panel games.”

Ms Eclair, who competed in the celebrity diving show Splash!, said she has been excluded from popular panel shows. “I’m not trusted. I’ve been told to my face by a female producer of Have I Got News For You that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.

“At that point you just have to swallow it and go ‘fair enough’. I don’t watch any of the panel shows that haven’t invited me on because I’m so furious about it all.”

A former panellist on ITV’s Loose Women show, Ms Eclair said Cohen was an “enlightened” executive. But a total ban on all-male panels would become unnecessary over time. “Once we have enough women doing it, it just becomes normal. Then if we see an all-male show, we’ll just say ‘how sweet, look at all the boys together’ instead of going ‘oh, not again.’”

Jon Plowman, the BBC comedy producer who brought French & Saunders to the screen, said all-male panels were down to “laziness” by producers, who turned to the most obvious names because they are under pressure to deliver the most “laughs a minute”.

Ms Eclair was not amused when Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett asked her if men were not simply funnier. “Oh please. Don’t even pretend that it’s a funny thing to say,” she replied. “I’m a menopausal woman in your studio. What would you want me to say to that?” The answer, when pressed, was “obviously not”.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?