Great Britain

BBC needs talent to survive…but at these insane salaries?

THINKING about the gender pay gap that still exists at the BBC is a bit of a challenge to my feminist principles.

Fiona Bruce is absolutely right to blast the gender pay gap at the Beeb as “unacceptable”. It really is. And I don’t understand why it is taking so long to rectify it.

It was, after all, revealed in 2017 in the BBC’s annual report, that the highest-paid man made between £2.2million and £2.25million, while the highest-paid female earned between £450,000 and £500,000.

But still, three and a half years later, four of the top five highest earners are men. Having recognised that the gap exists, it should not be taking them so long to create a more level playing field.

And yet it’s impossible to think about the question of pay at the BBC without asking the rather more pressing question of just why some people are on such colossal salaries, funded by the taxpayer. And therein lies the BBC’s biggest problem.

When it revealed several BBC salaries this week — for women as well as men — they were eye-wateringly huge. Especially when you consider other taxpayer-funded salaries are nurses who start on £24k, doctors who start with £27.5k, MPs £82k and a PM who gets paid £150k.

All of whom most people would consider more essential to the country than a broadcaster. Take Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball, who has seen her pay increase by £1million to £1.36million since taking over the breakfast radio show in 2019. You can practically see the steam coming out of people’s ears when they realise that amounts to the same salary as 56 nurses.

Then there’s Graham Norton who is on £725,000; Steve Wright who earns £475,000 and Huw Edwards who’s on about £465,000. Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce makes around £450k and Lauren Laverne is on £395k. Vanessa Feltz is up there too, on about £405,000.

No one can blame the presenters for the wages they are paid. All of them could get what they earn at the BBC, and in some cases more, from commercial channels. So, any criticism of them is unjustified.

And, by the way, it’s by no means a blanket rule that all presenters at the BBC get paid a fortune.

Before anyone points out that The Apprentice is a BBC show, I would like to point out I don’t know which part of the BBC negotiates these pay packages, but let’s just say it hasn’t filtered down to The Apprentice!

But either way, to any ordinary person these salaries are insane. But what’s the BBC meant to do? Yes, it’s not for profit, yes it’s funded by the taxpayer. But if it wants to attract the best presenters it has to pay the going wage or they will just defect to commercial channels.

And there’s the rub — the BBC is no longer the market leader and the core entertainment source in our lives because there is so much competition. On any given night, most of us can choose from literally hundreds of other options.

So perhaps all of this is to say that, yes, the BBC was once the very backbone of entertainment in Britain. But if it doesn’t wake up, get its priorities right, like stopping asking pensioners to pay for their licence, then we might all just change channels for ever.

Stone such a rock-solid role model

HOW much do we all love Sharon Stone?

Ever since she played the ultimate bombshell in 1992’s Basic Instinct her name has been synonymous with sex symbol status.

But I love how successfully she has sustained her career, brilliantly playing her role in the new Netflix series Ratched.

And here she is, at 62, looking a million dollars and reminding us – via a recent interview in which she talked about standing up to a director who sexually harassed her – that she is fearless, stunning, sexy and a timeless beauty, who also speaks her mind!

Another brilliant role model for women everywhere.


LIKE most people, I could really see the silver lining of the edict, back in March, to work from home if you possibly could.

I could mostly see only upsides to the fact that my new “commute” was from the bedroom to the kitchen, and also the hours I saved each week from no longer cramming myself into a squashed Tube twice a day.

Of course, those who could work from home were, in many ways, the lucky ones. Although I guess it depends on the type of work you are doing from home. If you are working at a call centre from home, your days probably involve much longer hours attached to a phone that never stops ringing.

But, six months in, I have had enough of WFH – the novelty of working solo in a vacuum has really worn thin. Having ventured back into the office I have to agree with Next chief executive Lord Wolfson, who warned this week that working from home has robbed staff of the joy of spontaneous conversation and the chance to learn from each other.

I didn’t realise how much I have missed working with my team, brainstorming and bouncing ideas around with other humans instead of just the dog. I think there are huge advantages to the end of the culture of presenteeism that used to reign, pre-Covid, in many an office.

And there is no doubt that flexible working is beneficial to everyone. But if the past six months have taught me one thing, it is that there really is NOTHING like contact with other humans to help us feel happy and fulfilled.


I SO loved seeing photos of Fifi Geldof looking gorgeous and happy on a night out with friends.

Now that she has short, bleached blonde hair, the resemblance to her late mother, Paula Yates, is pretty breathtaking and also a reminder of everything she has been through in her life.

She sadly lost her mother when she was young and then she lost her sister, in a tragically similar manner.

Given everything that she has been through in her young life, it is so great to see her looking happy and healthy.

I wish her nothing but happiness. She deserves it.


I KNOW that our definition of family has expanded over the years to accommodate all sorts of new dynamics.

But hearing about Clive Blunden, 65, who married his wife Brenda, 77, in 2007, after being together for more than 30 years really pushes some boundaries.

They first met when Clive was married to someone else . . . Brenda’s daughter, Irene!

So now, in this ultimately modern family, Irene’s ex-husband is now her stepfather, and the children’s grandmother is now their stepmother.

Now that’s what I call pushing boundaries.


MOST of us have never heard of Christine Granville, a woman who was considered Winston Churchill’s “favourite spy”.

This week she was honoured with a blue plaque at the hotel where she was stabbed to death by a stalker.

Reading about this remarkable woman and her daring wartime exploits after joining British intelligence in 1939, we really should have heard more about her.

It is clear she was one of the most effective special agents to serve Britain during the Second World War, male or female.

Yet again, I tip my hat to what that generation did for this country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay salaries of workers affected by closed businesses

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