Mamma Mia star replaced by AI for BBC role in ‘grim’ and worrying time for industry

Mamma Mia star replaced by AI for BBC role in ‘grim’ and worrying time for industry

Actress Sara Poyzer says she lost out on a job to AI (Picture: Corbis via Getty Images)

Mamma Mia star Sara Poyzer has revealed she lost out on a job after the company decided to go with AI instead.

The actress is known for playing Donna Sheridan in the theatre production of Mamma Mia, a role she held for over a decade and which took her across the world for touring performances.

She is also prominent in the voice acting industry, having worked on Doctor Who audio project The Legacy Of Time.

However the star has now lost out on new voice acting work with the BBC, after the broadcaster decided to go with an AI-generated voice instead.

She took to social media on Wednesday where she shared a screengrab of an email letting her agent know she would not be cast — because artificial intelligence had got the job.

It read: ‘Sorry for the delay — we have had the approval from BBC to use the AI generated voice so we won’t need Sara anymore.’

The star shared an email which said the company would ‘no longer need’ her (Picture: Getty Images)

Sara wrote alongside the post: ‘Sobering.’

Shameless and Coronation Street star Sally Carman shared her shock at the decision, saying it was ‘not acceptable on ANY level.’

‘I hate where this is heading. Greedy companies killing creativity and ultimately a profession for a cheap buck.’

Artist Nathan Wyburn said the same thing had happened to him with art projects ‘many times now,’ while X user GoalMouth said it was a ‘grim state of affairs for voiceover artists. No one asked for more AI voices.’

Sara’s Mamma Mia performances have taken her across the world, including Singapore and Italy (Picture: Getty Images)

While Sara didn’t reveal any further details about the role or project, the Mail Online reports it was a response from a production company working with the BBC who had initially hoped to hire her.

However as she was waiting for confirmation on the job, she was instead told they would be using AI instead.

Voiceover agency Voice Squad told the outlet they were ‘very disappointed,’ particularly as it was for 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.

‘Voice artists are particularly skilled actors who deserve not to have their work devalued.’

US actors went on strike for months last year, in part to secure promises around their rights with the rise of AI (Picture: Getty Images)

Sara had also tagged Equity, the performing arts workers union, in her post, which in 2022 campaigned for performers’ rights with regards to the rise of AI.

The Stop AI Stealing The Show campaign urged MPs to strengthen performers’ rights in response to the rise of AI across the entertainment industry.

It warned AI was being used for everything from ‘automated audiobooks and voice assistants to deep fake videos and text to speech tools. But UK law has failed to keep pace and this is leading to performers being exploited.’

‘Our campaign aims to get the government to recognise the threat posed by AI, update the law, and to get industry leaders onside so that artists can feel safe in the knowledge that their intellectual property is protected.’

The BBC, Equity and reps for Sara Poyzer have been contacted for comment.

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