BBC Question Time Under Fire After Announcing All-Male Panel

Host Fiona Bruce was set to be joined by 5 men, but Labour's Anneliese Dodds has now replaced Jon Ashworth.
A photo taken at a special edition of Question Time to mark the programme's 40th anniversary
A photo taken at a special edition of Question Time to mark the programme's 40th anniversary
PA Wire/PA Images

From the emergence of the prime minister’s derogatory comments about single mothers to activists literally being attacked on the campaign trail, it’s hardly been the most progressive of election campaigns.

So the announcement on Wednesday night that this week’s BBC’s Question Time panel would not feature a *single* woman was perhaps the icing on top of the cake.

In a tweet, it was revealed that host Fiona Bruce would be joined by Tory Party chairman James Cleverly, Labour’s Jon Ashworth, the SNP’s Ian Blackford, Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice and Liberal Democrat Ed Davey.

The programme said Ashworth had been invited to replace Labour’s Laura Pidcock, who could no longer attend.

It came almost six years after Danny Cohen – then the director of TV at the BBC – effectively banned all-male line-ups on panel shows.

He told the Observer in 2014: “We’re not going to have panel shows on any more with no women on them.

“You can’t do that. It’s not acceptable.”

Unsurprisingly, the absence of a single female politician on the show just days before voters are due to head to the polls did not go down well with viewers.

“Everyone involved in this – the BBC, the panelists, the parties – should be ashamed,” one tweeted. “How on earth can there be an all male Question Time? Especially just one week out from the election.”

But – never fear – there will now be one whole female politician on the panel.

In a statement on Thursday, Ashworth revealed he had pulled out of the programme and would be replaced by Labour’s Anneliese Dodds.

“I had no idea it would be an all male panel when I agreed to do @bbcquestiontime,” the shadow health secretary tweeted.

In a statement, the BBC press team said all-male panels “are not the ideal in 2019”.

“The (female) Labour politician we announced yesterday had to pull out for personal reasons. We’re pleased to say Anneliese Dodds has now agreed to appear, are we’re grateful to her for stepping in at short notice.”

Whether a panel with only one non-white person on it is good enough is seemingly a question for another day...

The BBC has yet to respond to HuffPost UK’s request for a further comment.


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