Sara Poyzer BBC AI replaced
Sara Poyzer in Mamma Mia! the stage musical, via Delfont Mackintosh Theaters

The BBC is responding to actress Sara Poyzer’s accusation that she was replaced by AI in an unnamed upcoming BBC production.

Defending the decision to use an AI voiceover instead of Poyzer — known for starring as Donna in the long-running stage musical Mamma Mia! — the BBC says it was done in order to honor the wishes of the family of the dying person whose voice is being recreated in the documentary, the BBC says.

BBC Responds to Uproar Over Actress Sara Poyzer Being Replaced by AI

“We’re aware there’s been discussion in the last 24 hours regarding our use of AI in relation to voiceover work. There is some important context to this, which is explained here:

‘We are making a highly sensitive documentary which features a contributor who is nearing the end of life and is now unable to speak. We have been working closely with their family to explore how we might best represent the contributor’s voice at the end of the film when words they have written are read out.

‘In these very particular circumstances and with the family’s wishes in mind we have agreed to use AI for a brief section to recreate a voice which can now no longer be heard. This will be clearly labelled within the film,'” a spokesperson for the BBC said Thursday.

The statement comes in response to Poyzer’s X post from Tuesday, in which she shared a screenshot of an email that said, “Sorry for the delay — we have the approval from BBC to use the AI generated voice so we wont [sic] need Sara anymore.”

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“Sobering,” Poyzer wrote in the caption of the post, which has been viewed nearly two million times.

Representatives for Poyzer did not immediately respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment Thursday regarding the BBC’s reasoning for replacing her.

Before the BBC released its response, other artists had jumped to Poyzer’s defense.

“I think it’s time for British actors and creatives to draw a line in the sand. Like our American brothers and sisters it’s time to resist this,” wrote Miltos Yerolemou, who played Syrio Forel on Game of Thrones.

“Most of my income comes from voiceovers. Without it I would have had to pick another career cos of money. This makes me want to explode,” wrote comedian Stevie Martin.

“Wow,” wrote Our House actor Jamie Hogarth.

“This is absolutely awful. Something needs to be done about this asap starting with them hiring you for this job!” wrote film and television composer Rob Lord.

“F*CK. THIS,” wrote the account for The 98% podcast, which highlights working actors. “@bbcarts…BBC ‘arts’. Where’s the art then?? This is incredibly enraging and upsetting and we should all be up in arms about this. For Sara, for ourselves as creatives, and for our industry. This is the beginning of a very slippery slope.”

Poyzer is known for playing Donna in the Mamma Mia! stage musical for several years. In the 2008 movie version of the beloved ABBA musical, Donna was played by Meryl Streep, who reprised the role in 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

In addition to playing Donna in Mamma Mia! the stage musical, Poyzer’s other acting work includes British television series Eastenders and as the voice of Mary in the Doctor Who podcast Doctor Who: The Legacy of Time. She’s also acted in the 1998 series Playing the Field, the 2009 movie My Last Five Girlfriends, the 2014 movie The Knife That Killed Me, the 2013 series Casualty, the 2009 series Cast Offs, and the 1998 series Dangerfield.

Main Image: Sara Poyzer as Donna in Mamma Mia! the stage musical at the Novello Theater, via Delfont Mackintosh Theaters