We have a female Head of State. A female Prime Minister. A female chief of the Metropolitan Police. And, as of this week, a female President of the Supreme Court.
Yet, according to a furious open letter signed by every one of the BBC’s top female presenters — for which I invite readers to devise an appropriately awe-inspiring collective noun — they are suffering from a most offensive form of discrimination
The cause of their letter to the BBC Director-General Tony Hall is last week’s publication of the pay deals of the Corporation’s highest earners. This, they complain, ‘showed what many of us have suspected for many years … that women at the BBC are being paid less than men for the same work’.
The most obvious example cited is that John Humphrys is paid more than £600,000 a year, whereas his fellow Radio 4 Today programme presenter Mishal Husain gets about a third of that. Still, not too shabby: I speak as a mere male whose fee when presenting Radio 4 programmes is in the hundreds of pounds, rather than the many thousands.
Humphrys’ humongous salary reflects not only the fact that he has been a stalwart of the Corporation for many decades, and presents Mastermind too, but also that he had been wooed by other broadcasters over the years and the BBC felt obliged to sweeten his deal.
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