Emma Willis and Caroline Flack: the tide has turned for female TV presenters in their 30s and 40s

The Big Brother and Love Island hosts believe "there's been a shift" in favour of older women on TV - but Meera Syal says actresses still receive a raw deal

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The TV industry is often accused of discrimination against older women but two in-demand presenters – Emma Willis and Caroline Flack – believe female hosts’ days in the business are no longer numbered.

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“As a woman that’s getting older it’s nice [to work in television] especially with what they say about Hollywood not having parts for older women,” says Willis, 39, in this week’s issue of Radio Times. “It’s great that women in their 40s are not being got rid of.”

The Voice and Big Brother presenter – who returns to BBC1 this Saturday as the co-host of a new game show, Prized Apart – also points out that her high-profile contemporaries Tess Daly, Claudia Winkelman, Holly Willoughby and Caroline Flack have all been “plugging away for quite a while.”

“We’re all in our 30s and 40s, which is nice because I think back to myself in my 20s and I knew bugger all and it’s only as I’ve got older that I feel I’ve started being taken more seriously and I’ve figured out who I am a lot more.”

Flack, who is currently hosting ITV2’s Love Island and will co-present the next series of X-Factor with Olly Murs, agrees: “It feels like there’s been a shift. A lot of women are coming through into TV now. Could I have taken on X Factor in my 20s? Probably not. It’s like any job – you have to work at it, learn your trade, improve. My career didn’t start properly until I was 30. Now I know who I am and I’m having fun.”

However, Meera Syal, who’s also interviewed in this week’s magazine, says that actresses over 50 still receive a raw deal. “A woman of 50 reverts to being invisible: I certainly feel it as an actress, having crossed that threshold. The parts you’re offered really change. The actors who were playing my husband five years ago are now playing my son, which means I must have had them when I was about six.”

“Why do we think that wrinkles are obscene? No wonder people are terrified of getting old. They’re not made to feel that having silver hair or the wisdom of experience is anything to look forward to.” 

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Read the full interviews with Emma Willis, Caroline Flack and Meera Syal in Radio Times magazine, available in the shops from June 9th or from Apple newsstand