BBC pilots sitcom from writer accused of sexual harassment

Friday 19th November 2021, 10:14am by Jay Richardson

  • Sci-fi comedy Saucer, by Andrew Kreisberg, aired on Radio 4 last week
  • Kreisberg was fired as showrunner from four US television series in 2017 for "inappropriate" conduct
  • The BBC says: "This was a one-off pilot which we are not progressing further"
Andrew Kreisberg

The BBC is facing questions about its decision to pilot a sitcom from a writer with a string of sexual harassment allegations against him.

Andrew Kreisberg's Saucer, a sci-fi comedy about six people trapped on an alien spacecraft, aired on Radio 4 on Friday 12th November.

Unusually, the corporation has already decided not to order a series, prompting speculation as to whether the BBC knew of claims made against the American writer before the pilot aired.

Saucer, which stars David Mumeni as a science-fiction obsessed podcaster snatched aboard a UFO, is Kreisberg's first broadcast credit since he was fired by Warner Bros. Television in November 2017 from his role as showrunner on high-profile superhero series The Flash, Arrow, Legends Of Tomorrow and Supergirl, following accusations of sexual harassment and other physical misconduct by fifteen women and four men.

Kreisberg, credited as Saucer's creator, writer, co-producer and co-director, also voices a radio DJ on the Radio 4 comedy, and has previously written for the BBC One sitcom My Family and The Simpsons. He was sacked by Warner Bros following an investigation that lasted less than three weeks.

"After a thorough investigation, Warner Bros Television Group has terminated Andrew Kreisberg's employment, effective immediately," the company said in a statement at the time. "We remain committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees and everyone involved in our productions."

US entertainment site Deadline reported that a number of staff working on The Flash and other shows featuring characters from the DC Comics universe had complained about Kreisberg's behaviour.

The website quoted an anonymous source who said that on at least one occasion, Kreisberg had interacted with a young female writer on The Flash early in the show's run in a manner that was described as "inappropriate" and creating "a hostile work environment".

There had been specific allegations about Kreisberg from at least one other woman. In that case, a director who helmed episodes of Arrow and The Flash, had also complained of similar inappropriate behaviour by him. Kreisberg has denied the accusations.

A 30-minute pilot, Saucer co-stars The Flash and Arrow's Katie Cassidy, alongside comedians Justin Edwards, Desiree Burch and Helen Cripps, as well as Dreaming Whilst Black creator Adjani Salmon, Fraser James, Rebecca Webb and Absolutely's Gordon Kennedy.

James' character, Gray, who is from the future, is depicted as highly hedonistic like everyone in the 22nd century, "shagging 24/8".

Kennedy, who also co-produced and co-directed the pilot with Kreisberg for AbsoLuTeLy Productions, declined to comment on the American's hiring.

And a BBC spokesperson told British Comedy Guide only that: "This was a one-off pilot which we are not progressing further."

Saucer is still available on the BBC Sounds website

Meanwhile, Get Off Live Comedy, an initiative set up to provide an independent and confidential support service to deal with sexual harassment in live comedy launched officially on Wednesday night with a fundraiser at the Comedy Store in London. The bill featured Russell Howard, Sara Pascoe, Nish Kumar, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Nina Gilligan and Sikisa.

A second fundraiser gig will take place at the Frog & Bucket in Manchester on Tuesday 23rd November, with a line-up that includes Pritchard-McLean, Gilligan, Rachel Fairburn, Daliso Chaponda, Stephen Bailey, Bethany Black and Erika Ehler.

The campaign group has also launched an online survey to try to ascertain the scale of the issue of sexual harassment in live comedy, with those who work in the industry asked to share details of their experiences confidentially.

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