The treatment of women isn't the problem with Have I Got News For You
I'm a massive fan of Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. I think they are brilliant at what they do and I want them to do it forever.
For the last couple of years there has been a debate around the number of female contributors on panel shows, with Have I Got News For You faring particularly badly.
This week the press release celebrating the new series of the show has been mired by more issues which have been raised about why the show struggles to recruit women. What needs to change to put this issue to bed? The show needs to go.
- It badly misses having a host. The joy and excitement at the couple of novelty hosts has worn away; now we just get a lukewarm selection of a lot of people who could probably do quite a good job if they were given time to settle into it and form a better relationship with the regulars.
- It isn't fresh. When the show was first started in 1990, it was delivering fresh news. Now in the era of Twitter, most of have heard all the jokes before, sometimes a few weeks prior. Half the time, the script is just reading jokes out from Twitter. The show's funniest output at the moment is their Twitter feed
- The regulars are proud to be out of touch. Both Ian and Paul will openly admit they have no interest in modern technology. This is something to be admired. But when you're making jokes about the news, you need to be comfortably talking about tweets and emails or it doesn't really work.
- It is too neutral. This is a silly point, but it is a reason why the show is struggling. Most TV shows are open about how politically biased they are, which means you know what you're dealing with. Have I Got News For You has ups and downs but generally it does a very good job being equally insulting to both sides of the political spectrum.
This is a problem because we are living in a period where you are apparently not allowed to be politically neutral. By not being openly biased they merely get torn apart from both sides.
- There are no women on it. Probably because they don't want to appear on it.
I really do write this with a heavy heart, because when the show was new I was obsessed with it. But how else would you fix it?