Sophie Duker calls for more diversity on The News Quiz

Friday 5th June 2020, 3:43pm by Ian Wolf

  • Sophie Duker is to appear on tonight's episode of The News Quiz, replacing "a white dude"
  • She tweeted: "I won't return as a guest unless another black person is in the credits as a writer or comic"
  • She says: "Black Lives Matter, and our creative industries should reflect that"
Sophie Duker.

Sophie Duker, who appears as a guest on tonight's episode of The News Quiz, has tweeted to say that she won't appear again on the Radio 4 panel show until it improves its diversity.

The stand-up comedian has since posted a series of tweets relating to the show, beginning with: "A little thing before the weekend: I'mma be on @BBCRadio4's @TheNewsQuiz tonight discussing #BlackLivesMatter. I love this show & its host & the entire team, but I'm donating my fee & I won't return as a guest unless another black person is in the credits as a writer or comic."

The episode, hosted by Angela Barnes, features Duker, Jen Brister, Lucy Porter and Hugo Rifkind.

Andy Zaltzman appeared in the printed billings, however Duker replaced him. She explained on her social media account: "I wasn't booked on this episode originally. I've already been on once this series. I was asked to be on this week because an all-white line-up seemed inappropriate given the circumstances. We all know the circumstances. Last-minute, I got the call. I replaced a white dude."

Duker has previously appeared as a guest on The News Quiz in February, and was last on the show in April.

Writing further on Twitter, she explained her thoughts: "Like so many black people right now (and in general tbh) I'm physically & emotionally exhausted. I knew we'd be asked a question pertaining to #BlackLivesMatter and I prepared a speech. My first take in the record was the first time I got to the end of the speech without crying.

"I want to be funny. I also need to honour black lives & hold white supremacy to account. Susan Wokoma said black people split themselves down the middle like a horcrux. I just want to do my job, but I always end up multitasking. All black people do. Maybe it's the melanin."

Speaking further on the topic of #BlackLivesMatter and the lack of diversity in television and radio comedy, she later wrote: "I've found it too painful to speak on socials much. I wanted to speak on this on the Beeb to try & communicate to an audience who wouldn't by default be on my side. To say certain names that haven't been said or learned nearly enough. Tony McDade. Naomi Hersi. Belly Mujinga.

"I'm fucking funny & more than capable of smashing the shit out of your tv show or writersroom. But I also know for a fact I'm not the only black artist who is. And I'm so often alone, the first, or the token. And I'm just ONE weird black girl! I'M VERY DIFFERENT TO A LOT OF THEM

"Too often powers that be see 'no people of colour in this room' then parachute just one in. The pressure to not fuck it up can be paralysing when you're seen as an ambassador not an individual. there's SO MUCH BLACK EXCELLENCE out there, but only a few get invited in at a time.

"Why are my melanated peers so frustrated in the UK? Why does it feel like once I'm in the room, some people think their work is done? The UK needs to see and hear all kinds of black people talking about things other than our own pain. I ALSO HAVE THOUGHTS ON AIRPLANE FOOD.

"I'm grateful to the industry allies that give me jobs. A lot of them are white. Obviously. In the media, the people with the kind of power to give a newbie a job almost always are. Keep hiring my black arse (I need to eat) just hire & promote other black people as well.

"This decision to maybe not return to one show I've loved doing, run by good people, might be emotional & arbitrary, not a smart career move or inconsequential. But it's a small thing I can control in a world that feels impossible. I hope, even under my terms, I'll be back soon."

She concluded: "Black Lives Matter, and our creative industries should reflect that. Our joy and anecdotes and hot takes and bad impressions and tall stories and wise words and niche references and special subjects ALL MATTER. Give more of us a seat at that table."

Duker has donated her fee for appearing on The News Quiz to the Exist Loudly Fund, an organisation supporting queer black young people in the UK. She has also encouraged people to donate to other organisations such as Decolonising Contraception, which "is an unfunded voluntary org led by a black doctor striving for reproductive justice for Black & POC."

Tonight's episode of The News Quiz, which will be broadcast at 6:30pm, is the last in the 102nd series. All the episodes in the run have been recorded without an audience. It is also the last episode to be hosted by Angela Barnes. Andy Zaltzman, the person Duker replaced as a guest in today's programme, will host the next series, which is expected to begin in the autumn.

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