UK Panel Show Gender Breakdown

Key:  male   female   other/diverse 

By @astronomyblog & @LoveGraphs. Stats last updated 12 December 2017

Generally, panel shows on UK television include few female guests. Most have male hosts and male captains/regulars. Even omitting the regulars, the guests are mostly men too. It is a problem that half the population are under-represented in these long-running TV and radio shows.

Is the situation really that bad? In short, yes (but slowly improving). I've compiled some statistics for current, long-running, shows from comedy.co.uk, Love Graphs (thanks Richard!), just-a-minute.info, IMdB, iPlayer, BBC Genome, Wikipedia and broadcasts to illustrate the point. The table below is split into comedy panel shows and others*. Many of them are comedy panel shows so I've made a non-exhaustive list of funny women to provide inspiration for the show makers.

Comedy panel showsAll appearancesGuest appearancesTotal
appearances
EpisodesScore
/10
Updated
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (BBC Radio 4)
96.6%
3.4%
78.8%
21.2%
234146822017-12-05
Argumental (Dave)
94.5%
5.5%
86.4%
13.6%
2204422016-07-28
They Think It's All Over (BBC One)
94.4%
5.6%
83.9%
16.1%
103614822016-02-16
The Blame Game (BBC Northern Ireland)
93.7%
6.3%
67.9%
32.1%
2715942017-12-05
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (BBC Radio 4)
90.0%
10.0%
87.5%
12.5%
30622016-02-07
Mock The Week (BBC Two)
89.4%
10.6%
77.1%
22.9%
106014932017-10-22
Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask (Dave)
87.7%
12.3%
82.2%
17.8%
651332016-04-15
Have I Got News For You (BBC One)
86.2%
0.1%
13.7%
73.6%
0.2%
26.2%
229745942017-12-05
Just A Minute (BBC Radio 4)
85.0%
15.0%
66.9%
33.1%
454390252017-12-05
A League Of Their Own (Sky 1)
82.8%
17.2%
69.7%
30.3%
5998552016-03-10
QI (BBC One/Two/Four)
82.4%
17.6%
74.3%
25.7%
105121042017-12-12
The Unbelievable Truth (BBC Radio 4)
81.7%
18.3%
77.2%
22.8%
52010442016-11-20
Play To The Whistle (ITV)
81.5%
18.5%
81.2%
18.8%
1351642017-03-16
Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC Two)
81.2%
18.8%
68.3%
31.7%
188626852016-02-14
Would I Lie To You? (BBC One)
81.1%
18.9%
67.0%
33.0%
5467852016-10-14
Does The Team Think... (BBC Radio 2)
80.0%
20.0%
75.0%
25.0%
801652016-08-21
The Big Fat Quiz (Channel 4)
79.2%
20.8%
64.3%
35.7%
1682462016-12-26
The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4)
79.1%
20.9%
72.5%
27.5%
425289252017-10-22
Taskmaster (Dave)
78.6%
21.4%
70.0%
30.0%
2243252017-12-12
Virtually Famous (E4)
78.5%
21.5%
68.4%
31.6%
2603652017-05-19
8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4)
78.3%
21.7%
64.9%
35.1%
128618362017-12-05
The 99p Challenge (BBC Radio 4)
78.0%
22.0%
85.9%
14.1%
1503042017-02-18
It's Only TV But I Like It (BBC1)
76.6%
23.4%
59.7%
40.3%
2223162017-03-21
It's Only A Theory (BBC Four)
75.0%
25.0%
40.0%
60.0%
24892016-02-07
The Fake News Show (Channel 4)
75.0%
25.0%
87.5%
12.5%
20442017-05-28
It's Not What You Know (BBC Radio 4)
74.6%
25.4%
66.7%
33.3%
671662016-02-15
You Have Been Watching (Channel 4)
73.9%
26.1%
65.4%
34.6%
691762017-01-28
The Christian O'Connell Solution (BBC Radio 5 Live)
73.8%
26.2%
55.6%
44.4%
651672017-03-16
Duck Quacks Don't Echo (Sky 1)
73.5%
26.5%
64.7%
35.3%
681762016-04-14
Bad Language (BBC Northern Ireland)
73.3%
26.7%
83.3%
16.7%
30642016-02-23
The Brain Drain (BBC2)
73.0%
27.0%
72.4%
27.6%
741452017-03-23
Shooting Stars (BBC Two)
72.3%
27.7%
62.0%
38.0%
6507272016-03-14
Ask Rhod Gilbert (BBC One)
70.4%
29.6%
42.0%
58.0%
981692016-04-15
Safe Word (ITV2)
70.3%
29.7%
73.1%
26.9%
911362016-06-16
Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled (Dave)
69.8%
30.2%
62.2%
37.8%
2054172017-03-20
Go 8 Bit (Dave)
69.4%
30.6%
58.3%
41.7%
36672016-09-05
Sweat the Small Stuff (BBC Three)
67.4%
32.6%
62.3%
37.7%
2423272016-02-16
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4)
66.1%
33.9%
74.1%
25.9%
6877962017-02-10
Reality Bites (ITV2)
65.7%
34.3%
65.3%
34.7%
67672017-03-20
Heresy (BBC Radio 4)
64.4%
35.6%
73.0%
27.0%
2365862016-12-11
Harry Hill's Alien Fun Capsule (ITV)
63.3%
36.7%
54.2%
45.8%
30682017-05-16
Don't Ask Me Ask Britain (ITV 1)
63.3%
36.7%
8.3%
91.7%
30672017-12-05
Fake Reaction (ITV2)
61.9%
38.1%
58.3%
41.7%
1261882017-02-18
Breaking The News (BBC Radio Scotland)
61.4%
38.6%
53.0%
47.0%
3917892017-12-04
Celebrity Juice (ITV2)
58.6%
41.4%
70.1%
29.9%
141218272017-01-15
Sorry, I Didn't Know (ITV2)
57.1%
42.9%
50.0%
50.0%
7192017-03-20
What The Dickens? (Sky Arts 1)
56.4%
43.6%
77.3%
22.7%
1102272016-02-08
Insert Name Here (BBC Two)
55.4%
44.6%
46.9%
53.1%
11216102017-12-12
Do The Right Thing (Comedy.co.uk)
49.5%
50.5%
69.9%
30.1%
1843482016-11-20
Global Pillage (The Spontaneity Shop)
48.7%
51.3%
35.5%
64.5%
2713982017-12-08
It's Not Me, It's You (Channel 5)
47.6%
52.4%
58.3%
41.7%
42692016-08-05
Best Behaviour (BBC Radio 4)
45.8%
54.2%
61.1%
38.9%
24692016-02-07
Dilemma (BBC Radio 4)
41.6%
58.4%
52.0%
48.0%
1252592016-02-07
Listomania (BBC Radio 2)
40.0%
60.0%
50.0%
50.0%
30692016-02-14
Comedy total
80.4%
19.6%
69.6%
30.4%
288655119
Other panel shows
Out Of Order (BBC Radio 4)
96.7%
3.3%
87.8%
12.2%
52112722016-02-08
Petrolheads (BBC Two)
93.3%
6.7%
91.7%
8.3%
30622016-02-07
Fighting Talk (BBC Radio 5 Live)
90.3%
9.7%
89.8%
10.2%
261552622017-01-28
The Last Leg (Channel 4)
87.7%
12.3%
66.2%
33.8%
56011952017-05-19
The Infinite Monkey Cage (BBC Radio 4)
83.3%
16.7%
72.9%
27.1%
4268242017-01-28
A Question of Sport (BBC One)
77.3%
22.7%
83.5%
16.5%
2963112842017-03-03
Question Time (BBC One)
71.3%
28.7%
64.8%
35.2%
7092131762017-03-30
In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
69.2%
30.8%
58.6%
41.4%
275670672016-04-29
Call My Bluff (BBC One)
67.4%
32.6%
52.3%
47.7%
5421104582016-12-29
Gardener's Question Time (BBC Radio 4)
65.2%
34.8%
54.3%
45.7%
191946582016-05-01
Loose Women (ITV)
19.4%
0.1%
80.5%
51.2%
0.2%
48.6%
15786248572016-06-15
Petticoat Line (BBC Home Service/BBC Radio 4)
0.0%
100.0%
0.0%
100.0%
57311602017-01-08
Other total
51.6%
48.4%
61.7%
38.3%
406628122

Discussion

Nearly all these long-running shows under-represent women even if you ignore the regulars. Few shows have equal representation amongst guests. I contend that some shows even under-represent the number of women on the comedy circuit (which, from various evidence, is around 17-24%).

Funny women

If you are looking for some funny women, here is a non-exhaustive list of suggestions (feel free to tweet me more suggestions)

Update 8 February 2014: The BBC's director of TV has said that "panel shows such as QI and Mock the Week will no longer have all-male line-ups". It is good to know the issue is being tackled. Hopefully it doesn't result in women being limited to one per episode.

Update October 2015: As I worried, Mock The Week seem to have used the 2014 ruling to limit women to one per episode. I agree with the departing Andy Parsons that they could take the opportunity to have a woman regular.

Update December 2016: This research got written up by Chortle and the Guardian. The Guardian article included some good quotes from comedians. Robert Lawson and Ursula Lutzky have an article about language splits on a season of Mock the Week (Discourse, Context & Media, Volume 13, Part B, September 2016, Pages 143–153).

Please TV-land people: sort this all out.