Big Fat Quiz of the Year sparks backlash for booking no female comedians

Channel 4’s Big Fat Quiz of the Year has attracted criticism after failing to book a female comedian for the 2020 panel.

Each Christmas, Jimmy Carr hosts the annual quiz on the year’s events, with six celebrities poking fun at what happened over the last 12 months.

Channel 4 announced the line-up for next week’s edition on Twitter, confirming David Mitchell, James Acaster, Stacey Solomon, Maya Jama, Joe Lycett and Richard Ayoade would be making up the three quiz teams. 

While many fans of the show were excited about the line-up, it was noted that while four male comedians had been booked, the two women on the show, Stacey and Maya, are not comedians, but presenters. 

In a year where stand-up comedy has been decimated due to the pandemic, the decision not to hire female comedians for the show has been particularly grating.

Comedian and The IT Crowd star Rachel Parris replied to Channel 4’s tweet: ‘I’d love to know who booked this and actually sit down and have a polite conversation with them to understand why they do this, what they think about women and how they got their job.’

She added: ‘The practise of casting comedy shows with only male comedians plus other famous women who are not comedians is unbelievably infuriating. It’s a comedy show, @Channel4, do you not know any female comedians?

‘Absolutely nothing against Stacey and Maya, I think they’re great, and great at what they do, it’s just a really specific issue here; pro male comics and not any pro female comics and it happens very often. Sub in Millican, Pascoe and Philip Schofield.’

‘Everyone here is great in their own right, but to not include female comics in equal numbers this year is tone deaf and looks deliberate. Used to love this but it looks old fashioned now….,’ another follower tweeted.

Over the 16 years Big Fat Quiz has been running, the show has never had an even split of men and women on the teams, with a maximum of two women on each edition.

Comedians Roisin Conaty, Michelle Wolf, Katherine Ryan, Sarah Millican, Mel Giedroyc, Jo Brand, Kristen Schaal, Miranda Hart and Ruth Jones have appeared as panellists.

However, there have been more female presenters and singers – albeit funny ones – on the show, with Davina McCall, Claudia Winkleman, Gabby Logan, Mel B, Maya Jama, Sharon Osbourne, Denise van Outen, Liza Tarbuck, June Sarpong, Cat Deeley and Lily Allen making appearances, joined by Solomon this year.

Winkleman is the most featured woman on the main show, with appearances in 2008, 2009, 2015 and 2018.

In contrast, the only non-comedian male panellists in 16 years have been Jonathan Ross (known for his comedic presenting style), Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Big Narstie – although the rapper is known for his grime comedy. 

In addition to host Jimmy Carr, there have been 22 male comedians on the show over the 16 year run, many with multiple appearances – Rob Brydon, Russell Brand, Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade, David Mitchell, James Corden, Simon Pegg, David Walliams, Dara O’Briain, Sean Lock, Michael McIntyre, Charlie Brooker, Alan Carr, Russell Howard, Jack Whitehall, Micky Flanagan, Kevin Bridges, Greg Davies, Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Delaney, Mo Gilligan and Asim Chaudhry. 

Eddie Izzard, who has appeared on the panel, is transgender and uses male and female pronouns.

James Acaster and Joe Lycett will make their first appearances on this year’s show, although Lycett has appeared on the spin-offs Big Fat Quiz of Everything and Big Fat Quiz of the Decade.

On the spin-off series, more female comedians have appeared – Aisling Bea, Sue Perkins, Sandi Toskvig and Chelsea Peretti.

However, more male comedians have also joined the spin-offs – Jack Dee, Frank Skinner, Bob Mortimer, Vic Reeves, David Baddiel, Jason Manford, Adam Buxton, Nish Kumar, Phill Jupitus, Alan Davies and Lee Mack. has contacted Channel 4 for comment.

The Big Fat Quiz of the Year airs on Boxing Day at 9.05pm on Channel 4. 

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