AI Debate Stirs in U.K. as Actress Replaced on BBC Project by Artificially Generated Voice

The AI battle is heating up in the U.K. after British actress Sara Poyzer was dropped from an upcoming BBC project in favor of an artificially generated voice.

Poyzer, who has starred in the musical staging of Mamma Mia! for a decade, shared a screenshot of the email from an unspecified BBC production member alerting her that her services on the unspecified project were no longer needed as the use of AI was permitted.

“Sorry for the delay,” the email reads. “We have had the approval from the BBC to use the AI generated voice so we won’t need Sara anymore.” Poyzer captioned the screenshot, “Sobering.”

In the replies to her tweet, Poyzer added the BBC’s shift to AI was “grim” and “proper shit.” 

As the Hollywood Reporter notes, in 2022, the BBC actually backed a campaign by the British actors union Equity called “Stop AI Stealing the Show.”

Voice Squad, the voiceover agency that works with Poyzer, said of the decision in a statement, “We were very disappointed to receive the production company’s response, particularly as it’s a BBC project. The BBC have always stood for quality in their factual and drama broadcasting. As a voiceover agency, we feel that AI is a danger to the whole industry — removing work from artists who have trained for three years at drama school and spent many years honing their craft.”

News of Poyzer’s artificial replacement comes less than a week after BBC director general Tim Davie said that the broadcaster would “proactively deploy” AI “on our terms” but added the technology would never compromise “human creative control.” The BBC has not yet commented on the Poyzer situation.

The threat of AI was among the linchpins of SAG-AFTRA’s actors strike in Hollywood, as union president Fran Drescher told Rolling Stone in December 2023.

“What we needed was that we get compensation and consent and that they had to tell us in very clear language what they would use it for on a particular job specifically,” Drescher said. 

“[It] could only be used for that one job. We went from not having any protections — they would be pulling our members off to go get scanned and think that was OK and they could just use it in perpetuity — and now we’ve put it into the members’ decision. They’re in the driver’s seat now.”

{Categories} *ALL*,_Category: Implications{/Categories}
{Author}Daniel Kreps{/Author}
{Keywords}TV & Movies,TV & Movies News,AI,BBC{/Keywords}

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