The BBC has faced a backlash from female politicians and comedians after Have I Got News For You team captain Ian Hislop claimed women were “too modest” to put themselves forward for the show.A number of women argued that they had never been invited on the show, after the team leaders Paul Merton and Hislop said the reason the gender ratio was so poor was because women reject offers from producers to appear.Merton told Radio Times: “The producers always ask more women than men. More women say no.”Hislop agreed, explaining: “On the whole, women are slightly more reticent and think, maybe modestly: ‘I can’t do that.’ Maybe more men in public life say: ‘Yes I can do that.’”Janey Godley, an award-winning comedian who also presents shows on the BBC, replied: “I’ll do it but never been asked.”Lynne Parker, the founder of the Funny Woman Awards, said the show had never shown interest in the female comics she works with. “I know people like that. That’s why they love the programme – it’s so successful. I just find it too vicious, too abrasive.”It’s all about banter – women don’t banter in that way, or very rarely. You might get the odd woman who would, but most women don’t banter in that way, don’t have that degree of aggression.” The first episode of the 55th series is on Friday, with Jeremy Paxman in the hot seat. Ayesha Hazarika, a comedian and former Labour Party adviser, said she would be more than happy to host the show, but had never been asked to appear, while comedian Rosie Fletcher offered her services, tweeting: “Luckily I am not too modest for anything and would do this, and be brilliant at it, in a heartbeat.”While many women poured scorn on Ian Hislop’s words, with some accusing him of “mansplaining”, Nadine Dorries said that the show was “too vicious” for women.The Tory MP told the BBC: “I just don’t think Have I Got News For You is a programme which lends itself to women feeling comfortable. I find it too vicious. She tweeted: “15 years and (as far as I’m aware) #HIGNFY never shown interest in what we do, ever. We’ve showcased nearly 1,000 Women comedy performers, writers & film makers in #FWAwards2017 and many more over the years.”Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP, said she had turned down being a guest twice, but when she had offered to host the show she was rejected. Achievable if #HIGNFY producers start looking at who’s coming through the live circuit and platforms like @funnywomen – lots of Amazing #funnywomen. https://t.co/qzRLLmNdfR— Lynne Parker (@FunnyWomenLynne) April 3, 2018 She tweeted: “A charming #IanHislop called & invited me on the panel of #HIGNFY (again). I declined not because I’m a woman but because I’m a politician & not daft! I offered to present it but he turned me down! I’m still available boys.” Maybe we all missed the call?— Kate Williams (@KateWilliamsme) April 3, 2018 Ian Hislop and Paul Merton have come under fire for their remarksCredit:Ian West/PA Wire Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.