The next series of Celebrity Big Brother is to launch with just female housemates “in a salute to a centenary of women’s suffrage”.
The show will begin in January with only women in the house before male contestants join them.
Channel 5 said it wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of women over 30 being given the vote.
But a descendant of suffragettes Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst said they would have laughed at the idea.
Dr Helen Pankhurst, an equality campaigner who is Sylvia’s granddaughter and Emmeline’s great-granddaughter, welcomed the fact the programme would raise awareness.
However she said people needed to realise there are still big problems in the entertainment industry and wider society.
“Anything that draws attention the centenary and allows a discussion and gets that message through to different audiences is a great thing,” she told BBC News.
“I’ll be really interested to hear what the audience have to say about it all and to hear the whole discussion it will promote.”
Asked what her grandmother and great-grandmother would make of the plan, Dr Pankhurst said she thought they would laugh, adding: “I really don’t know what they would make of the world we live in.”
Dr Pankhurst is publishing a book titled Deeds Not Words – named after the suffragettes’ slogan – in February to mark the anniversary.
“The message has to remain that there is a really serious issue behind the power imbalance that still remains,” she said.
“That is why we have a number of troubles, like the whole #MeToo issue, which is rife in the entertainment industry. So I think they would say, ‘fine, but let’s keep on with the messaging.’”
Channel 5 said the show “will initially explore how the all-female housemates interact”.
The male contestants will enter “over the course of the series”, but the broadcaster wouldn’t say how long the house would remain a man-free zone.
They also wouldn’t say how many contestants of each gender will eventually be inside, or whether it will end up with an equal split.
But their announcement said it would show “what happens when women hold the power”.
“The housemates will take part in a series of entertaining tasks and hidden experiments which will test their – and our – assumptions, challenge gender stereotypes and reveal fascinating truths about what it is to be a woman – and man – in the 21st Century,” it said.
Women over 30 gained the right to vote in parliamentary elections in the UK in 1918, following a long campaign by the suffragettes and after the contribution by women to the war effort during World War One was recognised.
The voting age for women was lowered to 21 in 1928, putting them on an equal footing with men.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-42220876