UK Panel Show Gender Breakdown

Key:  male   female   other/diverse 

By @astronomyblog & @LoveGraphs. Stats last updated 18 February 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
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (BBC Radio 4)
96.9%
3.1%
79.9%
20.1%
22914582
Argumental (Dave)
94.5%
5.5%
86.4%
13.6%
220442
The Blame Game (BBC Northern Ireland)
94.4%
5.6%
71.4%
28.6%
216483
They Think It's All Over (BBC One)
94.4%
5.6%
83.9%
16.1%
10361482
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (BBC Radio 4)
90.0%
10.0%
87.5%
12.5%
3062
Mock The Week (BBC Two)
90.0%
10.0%
77.5%
22.5%
9831383
Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask (Dave)
87.7%
12.3%
82.2%
17.8%
65133
Have I Got News For You (BBC One)
86.6%
0.1%
13.3%
74.1%
0.3%
25.6%
22124424
Taskmaster (Dave)
85.7%
14.3%
80.0%
20.0%
112163
Just A Minute (BBC Radio 4)
85.3%
14.7%
61.1%
38.9%
44188775
QI (BBC One/Two/Four)
83.3%
16.7%
74.8%
25.2%
10162034
A League Of Their Own (Sky 1)
82.8%
17.2%
69.7%
30.3%
599855
Play To The Whistle (ITV)
82.0%
18.0%
82.1%
17.9%
111134
The Unbelievable Truth (BBC Radio 4)
81.7%
18.3%
77.2%
22.8%
5201044
Virtually Famous (E4)
81.3%
18.7%
68.1%
31.9%
203285
Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC Two)
81.2%
18.8%
68.3%
31.7%
18862685
Would I Lie To You? (BBC One)
81.1%
18.9%
67.0%
33.0%
546785
Does The Team Think... (BBC Radio 2)
80.0%
20.0%
75.0%
25.0%
80165
The News Quiz (BBC Radio 4)
79.5%
20.5%
73.2%
26.8%
41778775
8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4)
79.5%
20.5%
65.7%
34.3%
12161735
The Big Fat Quiz (Channel 4)
79.2%
20.8%
64.3%
35.7%
168246
The 99p Challenge (BBC Radio 4)
78.0%
22.0%
85.9%
14.1%
150304
It's Only A Theory (BBC Four)
75.0%
25.0%
40.0%
60.0%
2489
It's Not What You Know (BBC Radio 4)
74.6%
25.4%
66.7%
33.3%
67166
You Have Been Watching (Channel 4)
73.9%
26.1%
65.4%
34.6%
69176
Duck Quacks Don't Echo (Sky 1)
73.5%
26.5%
64.7%
35.3%
68176
Bad Language (BBC Northern Ireland)
73.3%
26.7%
83.3%
16.7%
3064
Shooting Stars (BBC Two)
72.3%
27.7%
62.0%
38.0%
650727
Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled (Dave)
71.1%
28.9%
63.9%
36.1%
180367
Ask Rhod Gilbert (BBC One)
70.4%
29.6%
42.0%
58.0%
98169
Safe Word (ITV2)
70.3%
29.7%
73.1%
26.9%
91136
Go 8 Bit (Dave)
69.4%
30.6%
58.3%
41.7%
3667
Sweat the Small Stuff (BBC Three)
67.4%
32.6%
62.3%
37.7%
242327
8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4)
66.1%
33.9%
74.1%
25.9%
687796
Heresy (BBC Radio 4)
64.4%
35.6%
73.0%
27.0%
236586
Breaking The News (BBC Radio Scotland)
62.5%
37.5%
54.6%
45.4%
256518
Fake Reaction (ITV2)
61.9%
38.1%
58.3%
41.7%
126188
Celebrity Juice (ITV2)
58.6%
41.4%
70.1%
29.9%
14121827
What The Dickens? (Sky Arts 1)
56.4%
43.6%
77.3%
22.7%
110227
Insert Name Here (BBC Two)
56.0%
44.0%
47.9%
52.1%
841210
Global Pillage (The Spontaneity Shop)
49.6%
50.4%
32.7%
67.3%
119178
Do The Right Thing (Comedy.co.uk)
49.5%
50.5%
69.9%
30.1%
184348
It's Not Me, It's You (Channel 5)
47.6%
52.4%
58.3%
41.7%
4269
Best Behaviour (BBC Radio 4)
45.8%
54.2%
61.1%
38.9%
2469
Dilemma (BBC Radio 4)
41.6%
58.4%
52.0%
48.0%
125259
Listomania (BBC Radio 2)
40.0%
60.0%
50.0%
50.0%
3069
Comedy total
81.1%
18.9%
69.9%
30.1%
272454844
Other panel shows
Out Of Order (BBC Radio 4)
96.7%
3.3%
87.8%
12.2%
5211272
Petrolheads (BBC Two)
93.3%
6.7%
91.7%
8.3%
3062
Fighting Talk (BBC Radio 5 Live)
90.3%
9.7%
89.8%
10.2%
26155262
The Last Leg (Channel 4)
87.9%
12.1%
66.7%
33.3%
5031075
The Infinite Monkey Cage (BBC Radio 4)
83.3%
16.7%
72.9%
27.1%
426824
A Question of Sport (BBC One)
77.3%
22.7%
83.5%
16.5%
295611264
Question Time (BBC One)
71.3%
28.7%
64.9%
35.1%
704313096
In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
69.2%
30.8%
58.6%
41.4%
27567067
Call My Bluff (BBC One)
67.4%
32.6%
52.3%
47.7%
542110458
Gardener's Question Time (BBC Radio 4)
65.2%
34.8%
54.3%
45.7%
19194658
Loose Women (ITV)
19.4%
0.1%
80.5%
51.2%
0.2%
48.6%
1578624857
Petticoat Line (BBC Home Service/BBC Radio 4)
0.0%
100.0%
0.0%
100.0%
5731160
Other total
51.5%
48.5%
61.7%
38.3%
405498100

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.