BBC bosses are holding crisis talks today, after a recent survey of the corporation's assets revealed what was described as a 'crippling shortage of attractive female historians.'
Staff discovered the shortfall while cataloguing Broadcasting House's stock of television presenters. 'Even a quick stock-take revealed that, while we are up to our necks in bubbly and over-enthusiastic children's TV presenters, charmingly smug quiz show hosts and controversially outspoken automotive frontmen,' said a BBC auditor, 'our reserves of thinking man's totty are dangerously low.'
Attractive female academics such as historian Bettany Hughes have long been the mainstay of BBC documentaries and science programs. 'David Attenborough and Robert Winston may well add that air of authority and gravitas so essential to modem-day documentary making,' wrote producer David Sharpe of the BBC Natural History unit, 'but when it comes to spelunking down a Neanderthal burial pit eye in a tight-fitting wetsuit they're nowhere near as easy-on-the-eye as Dr. Alice Roberts - that's one osteoarchaeologist you wouldn’t mind dusting your remains!'
Social commentators are blaming the change in women's career aspirations for the shortfall, with many female graduates breaking into the traditionally male reserves such as invention, design and research. 'When I finished my doctorate in mechanical engineering and robotics, it was either a job in the automotive industry or as the eye-candy in Scrapheap Challenge or at least the Gadget Show,' revealed a recently qualified academic. 'Fame and glamour or a lifetime designing engine management systems - it was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned.'
According to one media insider, BBC bigwigs are desperate to address the shortfall: 'Auntie Beeb spends an awful lot of money on these flagship programs, so it's vital that the viewing figures repay this investment. Art historian Dr. Nina Ramirez can be guaranteed to attract at least an extra 20% to the audience of any boring old documentary on renaissance portraiture, while Zoologist Dr Charlotte Uhlenbroek does wonders for anything with monkeys in it.'
Equality campaigners have blasted the BBC's dependence on attractive scientists, with even employees within their own ranks questioning this policy. 'It's a sad state of affairs when we have to rely on good looks, rather than let a programs educational merit speak for itself,' wrote Marion Chambers, the corporations Diversity Champion. 'We'd be leading ourselves down an extremely dark alley if we were to continue with this - if it wasn't for the fact that we could dip into our pool of weather girls, which is practically dripping with brainy quim.'