Is the problem with panel shows really sexism?

There has a kerfuffle recently* over the predominance of all male panel shows on the telly, and- joy!- an apparent breakthrough as the BBC has sought to “ban” all male panel shows. Have I Got News for You? Mock the Week (Channel 4), QI; there are plenty of them and often, even when a female guest is on one of the shows, she’s often edited mercilessly anyway. I remember one particular episode of HIGNFY that featured Victoria Coren almost exclusively laughing at other panellists jokes. Perhaps she wasn’t that funny that week but perhaps they just decided to edit her as a supporting panellist. Who knows?

But more importantly: who cares? HIGNFY has been running for over 24 years now and has accumulated over 400 episodes. Everything that made it good in the first place has diminished with time. Hislop and Merton, the team captains, have been on the show right from the start, albeit with some breaks, and the format hasn’t changed or evolved much other than any pretence being dropped that it’s a quiz with one team trying to beat the other. They film hours of the stuff and edit it down into half an hour of the funniest bits, so continuity is all over the shop too. It’s tired, and the same goes for pretty much all the other panel game shows. They’re cheap TV, which is what attracts the broadcasters to them in the first place but the longer they run, the more complacent and smug the presenters and regulars get. It’s a jolly wheeze isn’t it? And it’s boring.

The BBC is particularly guilty of flogging a dead or dying horse long past the point it should be put down. If they’d had their way I’m sure we’d have had 20 series of Blackadder by now and the quality would have diminished terribly along the way.

It’s funny that the argument relates to sexism really and not to boring, staid and unimaginative telly. I find that much more offensive.

* or rather, the kerfuffle has once again raised it’s head. Even a cursory glance shows it’s nothing new. Victoria Wood was complaining about it in the Telegraph back in 2009.