Where are the women in the BBC autumn drama trailer?

Feature Louisa Mellor 2 Sep 2013 - 11:31

We investigate complaints that the BBC autumn drama trailer neglects to feature women characters...

“What a sausage fest”. That was the opinion of one commenter underneath yesterday’s BBC autumn drama trailer. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it notes that the ninety-second ad for nine of the BBC’s new original dramas (The Musketeers, Quirke, The Great Train Robbery, Ripper Street, The Escape Artist, Good Cop, Quirke, What Remains, By Any Means, and Sherlock) was heavy on men and distinctly lacking in women.

We can’t see what the problem is. After going through each of the ninety seconds armed with the pause button, we found plenty of women featured in the trailer. Sixteen in fact. That’s a lot of women by anyone’s standards. Too many, if anything.

What’s more, these women are depicted running the full gamut of female experience within the trailer: they kiss men, saucily crawl towards men in bed, are nuns, scream, and scream in the nude. As a woman, it’s refreshing to see primetime television finally reflect the real experience of womanhood. I often don’t have time to think for all the kissing of men and naked screaming my life involves. It’s a genuine wonder any of us manages to hold down a job.

There’s another thing. You can hardly complain about drama (which, come on, is only telly anyway, not a mirror held up to reflect humanity's image of itself) neglecting women characters when Sophie Okonedo is clearly playing a glum barrister in one bit. It takes years and years to become a barrister, and this woman’s managed it, despite all the saucily-crawling-towards-men-in-bed constraints on her time. Feminism in action, ladies and gentlemen.

Granted, all nine of those dramas listed above are male-led, but that doesn’t mean women don’t play key parts in them. At least, they might. Probably there just weren’t any good woman-y bits to cut into the trailer.

You have to admit, most of the exciting stuff – falling through windows, walking away from explosions, robbing trains, catching murderers, getting into fights, standing on rooftops and being heroes – that’s men’s stuff really isn’t it? If you want to see women in action, there’s always Call The Midwife, which not only features nuns, but nuns on bicycles. Like the women in the drama trailer, they also scream a lot, the Call The Midwife women, but always wearing nighties.

 “Some men are just born bad” the trailer reminds us; “That’s how the world is, there’s good guys and bad guys”. Don’t sell yourself short BBC, there are women too. Sixteen of them glimpsed momentarily across nine dramas, kissing the men, and screaming.

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