Under the terms of its new charter, the BBC has unveiled the salaries of its top 96 earners, presenting a run-down of all its on-screen talent paid in excess of £150,000. Chris Evans takes home the biggest salary, raking in more than £2.2m between April 2016 and April 2017, with the likes of Gary Lineker, Claudia Winkleman, John Humphrys and Graham Norton also high up the list.
But who is missing? There are a number of high-profile omissions – some whose salaries seem at odds with those of their better paid colleagues and others who receive their pay from other sources.
We’ve broken down a selection of the absentees and – where possible – explained why they didn’t make the list.
The star of Poldark is one of the faces of BBC drama yet he doesn’t feature in today’s release. Why? Well, although a portion of BBC drama – like Doctor Who, Silent Witness and Casualty (whose stars do make the list) – is made internally, plenty is made by independent production companies. Examples include Sherlock (made by Hartswood Films), Line of Duty (World Productions) and Poldark whose production company Mammoth Screen confirmed to RadioTimes.com that Aidan Turner’s salary was paid by them.
In its release, the BBC confirmed that – while the numbers reflect payments made from licence fee revenue – “these figures exclude amounts from: commercial investments into programmes; any payments made by our commercial entities, such as BBC Worldwide; payments made by independent producers; royalties; and repeat fees. Expenses are also excluded.”
So while it’s highly likely that Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Thandie Newton and the rest of the BBC’s wealth of acting talent do earn in excess of the bottom band of published salaries (£150,000), their pay packets come from elsewhere so haven’t been revealed.
Jeremy Clarkson was once the BBC’s highest earner, so why does his Top Gear replacement Matt LeBlanc not even make the list? BBC Worldwide – the Corporation’s main commercial arm, which makes money from selling programmes around the world and from merchandising, and doesn’t have to declare its salary payouts – has a massive stake in the popular car show so a large chunk of the former Friends star’s pay will come from there. A similar deal is believed to be in place for other BBC global stars, including Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi who, on the list, is reported to be paid between £200k and £250k – less than Casualty star Derek Thompson – but whose pay packet may be bolstered by income from Worldwide.
Incidentally, LeBlanc’s former Top Gear co-host Chris Evans is listed as the BBC’s top paid star, raking in more than £2.2 million – however this amount largely represents the salary for his Radio 2 Breakfast Show gig which routinely pulls in more than nine million listeners.
EastEnders heavyweights like Steve McFadden (who plays Phil Mitchell), Kellie Bright (Linda Carter), Jake Wood (Max Branning) and June Brown (Dot Cotton) all fail to hit the minimum published pay grade of £150k. McFadden, Bright and Wood have all been absent from the soap for chunks between April 2016 and 2017, and Brown – who turned 90 this year – films a reduced amount of screen-time.
Soap stars are paid a basic salary and earn additional sums if they exceed their guaranteed amount of episodes. Actresses Samantha Womack and Rita Simons – who left EastEnders on New Year’s Day – would likely have been included on the list if they had continued on the soap for the full applicable 12 months.
Sarah Montague is a key omission from the list – particularly because her fellow Today co-hosts Justin Webb, John Humphrys, Nick Robinson and Mishal Husain all feature. But – according to the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall – that does not mean that the lowest paid broadcaster on Radio 4’s news and current affairs show is a woman.
The published list only includes full salaries for the 12-month period; it doesn’t break down where that money came from. Montague’s Today colleagues all make content for the BBC alongside their early morning radio commitments – for example, John Humphrys fronts Mastermind and Mishal Husain sidelines as a BBC TV newsreader – whereas Montague makes no major contributions outside of her Today work.
Emily Maitlis and Louise Minchin
This is when we get into gender pay gap territory. While Montague’s absence can be explained, the omission of Newsnight and BBC News presenter Emily Maitlis and BBC Breakfast’s Louise Minchin has already attracted attention.
Some outrageous omissions on BBC top salary list. How can @maitlis not be on it? One of the best talents they've got.
Minchin co-hosts BBC Breakfast three times a week with Dan Walker who joined the format last year and does appear on the list. Walker later clarified the pay discrepancy on Twitter, explaining that the pair get paid the same amount for their early morning presenting gig:
BBC exec should really know that we get exactly the same for BBC breakfast. I have another job on Football Focus https://t.co/zcTvaiocqX
While there are plenty of radio stars on the list – Radio 2’s Steve Wright earns in excess of £500k – Women’s Hour presenters Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey don’t feature, despite having fronted the daily magazine show for 30 and 10 years respectively. Both are considered broadcasting heavyweights and their absence will only further fuel the backlash against the BBC’s gender pay gap. Two thirds of the BBC’s top earners are men – a disparity Tony Hall apologised for in advance of the publication.
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