The cast of ‘Skit Happens.’

Responding to the industry and social media backlash against Network Ten’s male-dominated Pilot Week line-up, Beverley McGarvey has stressed the broadcaster’s commitment to gender and diversity.

Ten’s chief content officer acknowledged Ten erred in not revealing the full casts of the eight pilots and promised there will be another Pilot Week next year.

Jane Kennedy, Meshel Laurie, Wendy Harmer, Magda Szubanksi and Em Rusciano were among the media identities who lamented the lack of women in shows fronted by Rove McManus, Dave O’Neil, Troy Kinne, Rhys Darby and Stephen Curry, Harley Breen, Kyle Sandilands and Sam Dastyari.

On social media Kennedy shot back at a guy who said Australia’s never produced a seminal female humorist: “You idiot. Rachel Berger, Mary-Anne Fahey, Libby Gore, Hannah Gadsby, Judith Lucy, Denise Scott, Wendy Harmer, Meshel Laurie, Kitty Flanagan, Celia Pacquola, Julia Morris, Rebel Wilson, Julia Zemiro, Fiona O’Loughlin, Kate McLennan, Kate McCartney, Anne Edmonds  FOR STARTERS.”

Clearly stung by the complaints, Ten released a photo of the ensemble cast of Skit Happens and McGarvey told Ten Daily last Friday: “The reaction has been particularly disappointing for the many people involved in the shows we have announced, considering the dialogue at present has not addressed the fantastic effort on their behalf.

“Our intent with Pilot Week was to commission bolder content. We planned to showcase programs we would normally be a little bit afraid to commit to, shows that would mostly play outside the 7.30pm time zone and skew a bit later in the evening, shows that would appeal to different audiences, and shows that would bring younger audiences to our platform.

“We had so many innovative and witty ideas we ended up commissioning eight pilots, as opposed to the five initially planned.

“In areas where women are under-represented, like narrative comedy, we actively spent time looking for female voices and, in fact, are fortunate to have found three amazing and clever concepts that are in active development. Narrative comedy, however, has a long lead time and those shows will not make it in time for Pilot Week in 2018. We did not mention this in the media release announcing our Pilot Week concept. It appears we probably should have.

“We also should have provided some artwork to go with the shows that reveal their full casts, particularly for the ensemble shows. This is a mistake we will not make again.”

She stressed that 62 per cent of Ten’s audience is female, more than any other primary channel, and four members of her leadership team of seven are woman, as are half the creative leads in the team she manages.

Showing she hasn’t lost her sense of humour, she said she was amused by a sketch on Wednesday night’s episode of The Weekly in which Kitty Flanagan was asked by a fictional Ten executive to front a show for Pilot Week.

Flanagan said no, pointing out that “women can’t host television shows.” She continued: “Just look at the ABC, they know what works. Shaun Micallef, Wil Anderson, Charlie Pickering, Tom Ballard, Tom Gleeson, Paul McDermott — all men. Doing what they do best; being men, on television.”

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