Bafta Breakthrough comedian Luisa Omielan: "I didn't realise how political it is to do a show with the BBC"
Politics for Bitches presenter Luisa Omielan said "the BBC is such a privilege to be part of" but that "it's hugely political what you can and cannot say"
Comedian Luisa Omielan has expressed her frustration at not always being able to "do justice" to the personal story in her BBC3 show Politics for Bitches, due to the BBC’s duty to be impartial.
“I didn't realise how political it is to do a show with the BBC,” Omielan – who has just been named as one of Bafta’s Breakthrough Brits - told RadioTimes.com. “It's hugely political what you can and cannot say.”
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The death of Omielan's mother, who was belatedly diagnosed with bowel and stomach cancer, inspired Omielan to write Politics for Bitches. However, much of her content about the underfunding of the NHS didn’t end up in the show because of the BBC’s duty, as a public service broadcaster, to be impartial.
“Because the BBC is funded by taxpayers, you have to show both sides all the time,” she explained. “In my live shows, I can go, ‘This is bulls***, this is f***ing bulls***. But I was doing a show about politics [for the BBC] and I wanted to say, ‘My mum died horrifically, I watched her die in absolute agony.’ And they're like, ‘Okay, but if we're saying that we need to have the doctor's perspective of what happened.’
“I just won't mention her death then. I won’t mention it. It has to be bipartisan. It has to be what they think is impartial, but by doing that you end up with this baseless, diluted news. In my politics show what I wanted to do was talk about so many more important things, but you just can't do them justice.
"It's amazing in America the freedom they have to do stuff and the independence. And the BBC is such a privilege to be part of, I'm so happy to be part of it, I just didn't realise - it's such a shame."
She added: “I'm just angry because my mum died horribly and I think people should be held accountable. In the same way that if we drink and drive or don't pay our tax in time, we're held accountable.
“But you can have hospitals where [patients] don't see the same doctor twice, where a nurse doesn't come round for several hours, where you're denied basic medicine and water and no one's held accountable, and then you die horribly and they can’t even say sorry because then they're admitting fault, so they say, ‘We regret that situation.’ And you go, ‘Guys, it's not enough.’"
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The BBC’s editorial guideline on impartiality in drama, entertainment and culture programming is: “The audience expects artists, writers and entertainers to have scope for individual expression in drama, entertainment and culture. The BBC is committed to offering it. Where this covers matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or other 'controversial subjects', services should normally aim to reflect a broad range of the available perspectives over time.”
RadioTimes.com contacted the BBC but they declined to comment.
Politics for Bitches is available on iPlayer now and airs on Wednesdays at 11.15pm on BBC1