BBC Replaces Sara Poyzer With AI Voice

In a move that’s set the performing arts community abuzz, fellow Hustler of 4+ years Sara Poyzer, celebrated for her decade-long portrayal of Donna Sheridan in the West End hit Mamma Mia!, has been replaced by artificial intelligence (AI) for a BBC project. Poyzer shared the unsettling news on her social media, showing an email from the production company behind the BBC show, bluntly stating, “Sorry for the delay – we have had the approval from the BBC to use the AI-generated voice so we won’t need Sara anymore.” The post, which quickly went viral, sparked widespread debate about the encroaching role of AI in the arts, accumulating nearly 2M views.

The email’s revelation has ignited a firestorm of responses from the performing arts community. Comedian Stevie Martin voiced her alarm, emphasizing the vital role voiceover work plays in the livelihoods of many artists. The 98% Podcast and actor Miltos Yerolemou from Game of Thrones echoed the sentiment, calling for a unified stand against the replacement of human creatives with AI.

Voice Squad, Poyzer’s agency, expressed disappointment, especially given the BBC’s reputation for quality broadcasting. They stressed that AI poses a significant threat to artists who have dedicated years to honing their craft.

This controversy comes amid a backdrop of increasing use of AI in entertainment, prompting Equity, the performers’ union, to launch the “Stop AI Stealing The Show” campaign in 2022. The campaign seeks legal reforms to protect performers’ rights in the age of AI, which is rapidly being adopted for tasks ranging from audiobook narration to deepfake videos. Equity’s efforts, alongside individual voices from the industry, aim to safeguard the intellectual property and job security of artists against the tide of technological advancement.

The BBC’s decision to opt for AI over Poyzer’s talent raises critical questions about the future of creative professions and the integrity of artistic production. It also underscores the urgent need for dialogue and regulation regarding AI’s role in the arts, ensuring that technology enhances rather than diminishes the human element that lies at the heart of creative expression.

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July, 2024

Tracy Turnblad