Dara O’Briain has dismissed criticism that Mock The Week is ‘too left-wing’, calling the debate “frankly mind-numbing”.
The stand-up star and presenter defended the comedy panel show by insisting comedians were busy “fighting” for laughs on the show.
Speaking to the PA Media agency, Dara said: “When a story pops up on Mock The Week, no-one is going, ‘How can I bend this to an agenda?’
“You’re going, ‘What’s the gag? What is the joke here? Where can I find the joke?’”
He added: “There is no meeting… The idea that they sit me down with Huw Edwards and Gary Lineker and (children’s presenter) Mr Maker, and we have a meeting.”
Dara said comedians are in the arts “and people in the arts tend to be more left-wing than right-wing, except,” he added, “comedians are all tiny, self-employed, savage business people who run a business in an incredibly competitive (environment)…. We’re all fighting over the gigs.”
He added: “The producers will put the news in front of you and none of us are going, ‘Well, how can I educate the public on this?’ It’s ‘What’s the funny thing about this? What’s my angle on this?’”
He said: “The government does stuff and so people talk about what the government has done. Starmer and Corbyn before him are kind of in a reactive role as well.
“It’s always going to be that.. and, honestly, to be plunged into the middle of a debate which is about the polarisation of certain elements…. when we do 11 half hours a year, as if this is somehow central to the whole thing. People’s objections are to the news.”
Dara’s comments come after it was reported new BBC director general Tim Davie was considering axing a number of comedy shows to tackle perceived bias.
Along with Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week has faced complaints about its jokes about the Conservatives and Brexit.
Dara said he hoped to quiz the BBC chief about the issue when he bumped into him recently, but Davie got in a lift.
He recalled: “Tim Davie and I met in a corridor, about a week ago.... Tim looked at me. Who can tell what the reaction was because he was wearing a mask. But I was about to go, ’So let’s have a chat over this left-wing, right-wing thing.
“There was a ‘ding’ noise because his lift arrived. He said, ‘Oh, only one person at a time unfortunately.’
“He got into the lift and then the doors closed, and so I have no idea if Tim regards this as a lucky escape.”
Tory MP Ben Bradley recently weighed in on the debate, saying: “In recent years lots of BBC comedy shows are just constant left-wing rants about the Tories and Brexit. If the BBC is to truly represent all licence fee payers, that needs to change.”
Panel show regular Aisling Bea was among those who spoke out against the reported plans, tweeting last month: “Comedy about the party who is in charge of the country & at a time when everything is clearly going so bloody well MUST BE STOPPED. Communist-edians Out!”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.