BBC replaces 'Mamma Mia!' star Sara Poyzer with AI

Occurred: March 2024

The BBC stirred controversy by replacing Sara Poyzer, the acclaimed star of the musical Mamma Mia!, with an AI voice for an undisclosed production.

Poyzer expressed her disappointment on social media after receiving an email from the BBC to a production company stating it would no longer require her services due to the approval of an AI-generated voice

The BBC later said that they were producing a sensitive documentary featuring a contributor nearing the end of life, unable to speak and that, in collaboration with the contributor’s family, it had decided to use AI for a brief section to recreate the contributor's voice.

The decision sparked heated discussions about the impact of AI in media production and the loss of creativity and expression in an increasingly automated world. Voice Squad, a voiceover agency working with Poyzer, criticised the move, emphasising that AI poses a threat to the industry by taking work away from experienced artists.

The Equity labor union had earlier launched a campaign called 'Stop AI Stealing the Show' in 2022, which the BBC supported. The broadcaster recently faced viewer complaints about its use of AI to promote Doctor Who.

System 🤖

Operator: BBC
Country: UK
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Reproduce voice
Technology: Neural network; Machine learning
Issue: Employment
Transparency: Governance

Research, advocacy 🧮