Take Me To Your Leader Writer

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...has written more leaders (newspaper editorials) than anyone alive or dead, an honour still to be recognised by the Guiness Book of Records or the Nobel judges. I have produced them for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday People, the Evening Post (Hemel Hempstead), the Caithness Courier and the Student (Edinburgh). My creed is: Have opinions, Will travel.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

BBC insults us all, not just women

The victory of Miriam O'Reilly in her age discrimination case against the BBC was followed by inevitable claims that this would change the way television presenters were treated. Dream on.
Television in general and the BBC in particular is obsessed with youth. Rather like the Daily Mirror was during some of the time I was there.
Yet the bulk of those who watch TV - and who read newspapers - are older. A fascinating survey which I saw in The Guardian a couple of years ago showed that the average age of those who watch television at peak viewing times is well into the 50s. The average age. (Newspaper readership is even older: hence the success of the non age-obsessed Daily Mail.)
That doesn't mean younger people shouldn't appear on TV - of course they must - but it does mean viewers aren't turned off by older presenters. And, naturally, the ones who get kicked out are always women.
Miriam O'Reilly seemed to me to be the right sort of presenter on Countryfile and the audience it was aimed at. But presumably the Jay Hunters who moved the programme to a peak time thought they needed to turn it into a teenyboppers version because viewers at that time are too stupid to accept a slightly older woman.
That's not just insulting to women but to all of us.

Footnote: Reports of the O'Reilly industrial tribunal result mysteriously don't appear on the BBC website.

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