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AI Replaces ‘Mamma Mia!’ Musical Star Sara Poyzer for BBC Production: “Sobering”

The artificial intelligence debate has intensified in the U.K. this week after veteran Mamma Mia! musical star Sara Poyzer in a social media post said that AT has replaced her for a BBC production.

Poyzer, who has played Donna Sheridan in the onstage musical for around 10 years, posted a screenshot of an email containing the news and tagged the U.K. public service broadcaster and labor union Equity, calling the development “sobering.” Poyzer also added a sad face emoji. She didn’t detail the name of the production or whether it was an audio or TV project.

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“Sorry for the delay,” the email from an unidentified production company reads, per the screenshot shared by Poyzer on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter). “We have had the approval from the BBC to use the AI generated voice so we won’t need Sara anymore.”

Miltos Yerolemou was among the industry people who reacted to the disclosure. “It’s time for British actors and creatives to draw a line in the sand,” the actor who played Syrio Forel in Game of Thrones posted on X. “Like our American brothers and sisters it’s time to resist this.”

Voice Squad, a voiceover agency that works with Poyzer, told the Daily Mail: “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.”

Equity, in 2022, launched a campaign called “Stop AI Stealing the Show.” The BBC backed the campaign.

This week, the U.K. public broadcaster said it would stop using AI to promote Doctor Who after receiving viewer complaints.

Earlier this week, BBC director general Tim Davie said the broadcaster would “proactively deploy” AI “on our terms,” supporting rights holders, while “never compromising human creative control,” and sustaining the BBC’s editorial standards. “We are now working with a number of major tech companies on BBC-specific pilots which we will be deploying the most promising ones in coming months,” he added.

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