It was, of all things, reading James Delingpole that made something click. His comment on the fact that the assistants in Dr Who have to be both sexy and tough:
"Yeah, OK, so it may be very post-modern and PC and Grlll Power, and all, that to have female assistants who are, like, bold, and sassy and totally unflappable in all situations."Except it isn't, is it? If the BBC wanted to be really post-modern and PC, it could do something very simple. It could have a female Doctor. And then she could flirt with a male companion (or female, according to choice) and the companion could run around screaming and getting caught by aliens, and the balance of the Universe would be restored. Isn't it that easy? Just let the Doctor be a woman, and the problem of flappy, squeally uselessness in the companions would be solved instantly. You can have a male, flappy, squeally, useless assistant.
But then you go and look at the make-up of the BBC's comedy panel shows, and notice that this problem isn't confined to Doctor Who. The people who make up Mock the Week, or Have I Got News for You, or QI, or Would I Lie to You. It's the same with all of them. The BBC's representation of women is, when you look at these shows, worse than the ordained women in the Church of England, or round about the same proportion as the parliamentary representation of women in the Conservative Party (but not, oddly, the Lib Dems).
So come on, BBC - for goodness' sake. Try and beat the Conservative Party. Or really go for it - see if you can catch up with the Church of England?