Celebrities and campaigners have applauded a tribunal’s verdict that the BBC discriminated against presenter Miriam O’Reilly because of her age.
The 53-year-old former host of Countryfile was dropped when the BBC moved the programme to an evening slot in 2009. The tribunal did not accept her claim that there was sex discrimination, but agreed that it was a case of ageism. The BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob has now apologised on behalf of the Corporation.
Esther Rantzen said the outcome would “make people question their own attitudes”. Dame Joan Bakewell called it a “landmark decision” and Age UK’s Michelle Mitchell said it was time for TV broadcasters to “start offering a more honest portrayal of our society to their viewers”.
Dawn Airey, of Women in Film and TV, said: “This is a very live issue for all broadcasters. It’s a question of reflecting diversity on-screen and if you don’t reflect that then you’re out of touch with viewers. It will be interesting to see how the BBC and the whole industry reacts to this.”
And Gloria Hunniford, while congratulating O’Reilly, says she doesn’t believe the BBC is ageist. “You only have to look at something like The One Show,” she said. “You have reporters there that are in their 80s and the reality is that it isn’t all about young people.”