Author Nick Hornby says women working in TV can’t be both funny and pretty on screen

Writer Nick Hornby insists actresses can be funny or beautiful on British television but cannot be both.

The author of About A Boy says that women should never play characters that are attractive and also amusing.

While Lucille Ball paved the way for generations of American comedians, British stars did not have such early role models.

Writer and Executive Producer Nick Hornby in New York City in 2019

Writer and Executive Producer Nick Hornby in New York City in 2019

“We didn’t have that until Pamela Stephenson and French and Saunders showed up,” he told Radio Times.

Hornby’s 2016 novel Funny Girl, about a young woman trying to become a comedian in the 1960s, was adapted into a Sky series starring Gemma Arterton.

‘Pretty women don’t often play comedies, and even less so in the sixties, so Sophie [Miss Arterton’s character] is to take away her beauty to enhance and allow herself to be funny,’ he said.

Gemma Arterton plays Barbara Parker in Hornby's bestselling novel Funny Girl

Gemma Arterton plays Barbara Parker in Hornby’s bestselling novel Funny Girl

Hornby, 65, joked that Sophie was ‘probably going to be a Bond girl’ – so was Miss Arterton.

The 36-year-old actress said she regrets playing agent Strawberry Fields opposite Daniel Craig in Quantum Of Solace in 2008.

Hornby says he was inspired to write The Comedy Girl by Rosamund Pike, who starred in his 2009 adaptation of Lynn Barber’s An Education, and told him: ‘No one has can allow me to be funny.’

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