A producer from the Alan Titchmarsh Show has found himself knee deep in a sexist mire after turning down a female debater from The Union and requesting a "male" and preferably "British" one in her place.
Union President Joanna Mobed was contacted last week by a producer of the Alan Titchmarsh show, asking her to take part in a debating segment called the ‘Daily Ding Dong’.
In emails leaked to The Tab, producer Simon Gummer said he’d “really like one of them to be between two ‘professional’ debaters”, putting the Cambridge and the Oxford presidents head-to-head.
After replying that she was interested, Joanna received the following response from Simon:
‘This afternoon I thought I had finally got everything sorted and would be able to come back to you with the debate motion and all the details however my executive producer has decided she wants the debate to be a specific way so all my plans have got [sic] out of the window.
“She would like two men to debate the motion ‘this house would reinstate national service’ so would it be possible for you to find me a guy who would be willing to take part? It would also be best if he was British.
“If you could let me know as soon as you can if this would be ok and the details of who you would like to put forward.”
Speaking to The Tab, Joanna said “Initially, the representative from ITV was very cooperative. However, I was disappointed by the decision to take the programme in this direction. Being a woman should not disqualify me from speaking on that motion.
“I was also a bit surprised by the request for a British speaker. When debating, what matters is a person’s ability to think through and understand the issues involved.
“Gender and nationality should not be a consideration in this matter”.
Producers sent three further emails and called the Union offices, which decided not to respond.
The Tab contacted producer Simon to ask him why he told Joanna to ‘find a guy’ for the show instead of her but he declined to comment.
An ITV spokesperson later said: “As a TV programme we cast contributors in accordance with the subject matter. For this particular item we wanted to debate the motion of reinstating National Service for men and so we were looking to cast two men who would explore both sides of the argument.”
The call for this debate comes as a bill to reinstate compulsory national service for 18-to-26-year-olds – male and female – is to be debated in Parliament early next year.
The last time National Service was instated during World War Two, both women and men were called up.
Competitive debaters are expected to argue over a range of topics, most of which aren’t directly relevant to them.
Sadly this isn’t the first time the Cambridge Union has confronted sexist behaviour.
Earlier this year, Glasgow University male debaters yelled sexist heckles at Cambridge student Rebecca Meredith and her debating partner Marlena Valles from Edinburgh uni, shrieking ‘shame woman’ and ‘get that woman out of my chamber’.
Last year Ms Meredith was ranked the 13th best debater in the world.
The horrible conduct of the Glasgow debaters prompted a national outcry but no disciplinary action from the Glasgow uni authorities, who ruled that there was ‘no case to answer’.