Comedian calls for traumatic filming of TV rape scenes to end

Comedian and actor Doon Mackichan has called for an end to the way rape scenes are filmed for TV series.

Smack the Pony and Toast of London star Mackichan, 61, was speaking at Hay Festival about her memoir My Lady Parts: A Life Fighting Stereotypes.

During a panel discussion chaired by The Independent’s chief book critic Martin Chilton, Mackichan said she has “lost jobs” before because of scenes she had refused to film. She said she turned down appearing on Silent Witness after being asked “are you happy with nakedness on the [mortuary] slab?”

She also revealed that, because of her openness about this, younger women in the industry have often confided in her about their experiences.

“I spoke to two young girls, both in their twenties, who’d both done rape scenes and it spurred me on to write an article in The New Statesman called ‘Enough is enough’,” she said.

“It was horrific what they had to go through. [The crew] would keep the cameras rolling. One of them was told, ‘If you’re uncomfortable, just shout stop’, but she lost her voice because she was being pinned down by four guys.

“We’ve got used to it, and we need to realise what an aberration it is for women to be even watching this kind of thing [on TV].”

Doon Mackichan has called for an end to brutal TV rape scenes (Jeff Spicer/Getty)
Doon Mackichan has called for an end to brutal TV rape scenes (Jeff Spicer/Getty)

She added that she heard about one instance of a young actor having to endure two days of simulated rape for a TV drama, which ended up being all for nothing when the director cut the scene in the edit.

“I was all in favour of them never having that rape scene,” she said, “but the fact she had to go through that, and then the director decided he would cut it as if he was the big hero.

“This kind of thing has to stop. And unfortunately, you look at Netflix, and the amount of sexual violence they have on a lot of shows... we still have a long journey.”

Elsewhere at the festival, during a Women in Comedy panel discussion, Mackichan opened up about the scenes she refused to film in the Scottish sitcom Two Doors Down.

She said that, while Cathy is one of her “favourite roles”, there were some scenes written by its late co-creator Simon Carlyle that “went a bit far”.

Hay Festival runs from 23 May to 2 June in Hay-on-Wye;

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)