Leading British historian and writer David Starkey has slammed the idea that the BBC should appoint a female host for the remake of the hit documentary ‘Civilisation’. Starkey called the moves “preposterous” as they have been based on a quota notion, rather than who would be best suited to do the job.
Starkey hit out at the idea in the Sunday Times, claiming “…just because someone is a woman they will have something interesting to say is preposterous”.
A campaign by female celebrities has called for Prof. Mary Beard to host the show, and feminist activists and celebrities have backed the idea that “would ensure [Civilisation] won’t just be about history but also herstory“.
Starkey is also being considering for the role. He said: “Before you even start filming you should have a series of public debates about a project like this and who should present it and what should be included.
“It would be rather like a party political leadership contest to decide who is best capable of shaping the debate. It would get us out of the business of ‘We want a woman, we want a black [person], we want a straight man’, which seems to me childish,” he said.
“You might as well say ‘We want someone who’s dead’, that’s the next step. All of this is special pleading.”
“The public discussion is taking a very politically correct approach. I do not think it should be a question of a male versus a female presenter.”
“One should rather be asking ‘Will this person say something interesting?’ The idea that because you are a woman you would therefore say something interesting is preposterous.
“Feminism has got its knickers in a terrible twist. Are feminists claiming that women can compete on every level with men in every sphere — or are they now putting this different argument, which is that women bring different qualities to bear?
“You can’t keep shifting between these two arguments, which are mutually contradictory. It’s a terrible muddle.”
The original Civilisation documentary series was written and produced in the late 1960s. It was hosted by Kenneth Clark and dealt with issues pertaining to Western civilisation including history, art, literature, philosophy and more.
The series won numerous awards, and the remake set to be filmed in the next year has created much public debate about who should host it, and what the final product might look like.