BBC Pay: five key takeaways from 2018’s salary report

BBC announce reduction in the gender pay gap – but what's really going on behind the figures?

Emily Maitlis

Read this year’s update: BBC pay: eight key takeaways from the 2019 annual report

The BBC has released the salaries of their best paid stars for the year 2017/2018, announcing a reduction in the gender pay gap between men and women earning over £150,000.


The news comes with proof of widely-reported salary cuts for some of the corporation’s high profile male stars.

But what are the key findings buried beneath those hefty pay slips? We’ve broken down some important areas of interest…

1. BBC correspondents

Laura Kuenssberg

It’s worth paying close attention to the pay packets of BBC News’ main correspondents.

Top of the list is Jon Sopel, the North America editor, who takes home between £230k and £239k. He’s had a busy year and plenty of screen time thanks to the unpredictable – and at times unbelievable – presidency of Donald Trump.

The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, is in the pay grade below, taking home between £220k and £229k. Depending on where their wages fall within those salary brackets, there could be just a thousand pounds separating them – but given Kuenssberg’s domination of her political beat and the fluctuating Brexit news cycle, her lesser pay grade may raise some eyebrows.

Also worth noting is Europe editor Katya Adler, who takes home between 170k and 179k, significantly less than Sopel’s wage despite a frantic year for the continent dominated by both Brexit and the migrant crisis.

Adler didn’t make the list last year so has been handed a significant pay rise, but still earns less than Jeremy Bowen (Middle East editor) and Media editor Amol Rajan, who also fronts the Media Show and other programmes on BBC radio. Both journalists are on between £200k and £209k.

And for extra comparison, Adler’s pay is matched by Mark Easton (Home editor) and former Today host James Naughtie, whose contributions as a presenter and correspondent also earn him between £170k and 179k.

2. Male pay cuts

We’ve heard reports over the last year of well-remunerated male BBC stars taking voluntary pay cuts.

And while this year’s salaries list remains dominated by men, on closer inspection there are some broadcasters taking home considerably less than they did last year. Among them are Chris Evans (whose salary decreased from £2.2m-2.25m to £1.66m-£1,669,999), Graham Norton (whose £850k-£899k is now £600k-£609k), John Humphrys (£600k-£649k to £400k-£409k) and Jeremy Vine (£700k-£749k to £440k-£449k).

The changes mean Gary Lineker takes over from Evans as the highest paid BBC talent – the Match of the Day presenter’s salary remains unchanged, listed as between £1.75m and £1,759,999. It’s also worth noting that the top 12 highest earners are all men.

3. New entries

CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Emily Maitlis addresses students at the Cambridge Union Society on October 5, 2015 in Cambridge, England. (Photo by Chris Williamson/Getty Images)

There are a number of women featured on this year’s list who were notable omissions when the 2016/2017 salaries were published.

Well-documented among them was Emily Maitlis whose agent called it “beyond madness” that her salary did not clear the £150k threshold.

It appears she has since had a pay rise, with her earnings now listed as between £220k and £229k.

Jane Garvey also makes an appearance – the Woman’s Hour presenter organised an open letter to the BBC from 40 of her female colleagues demanding fairer pay; her salary is now recorded as between £150k and £159k.

“I made the list of high earners this year as the result of what the BBC called a ‘pay revision’,” she said. “I know I am incredibly well paid. Many in the real world would argue that I am too well paid.

“Female broadcasters, journalists and producers at the BBC are a privileged bunch. In the last year, as BBC Women, we’ve used that privilege in the right way, to start a conversation about equal pay. There’s still a long way to go… and, obviously, not just at the BBC.”

Other female newcomers to the £150k+ list include Sarah Montague (who recently moved from Today to front The World at One) and Tina Daheley, who works on Newsbeat as well as covering BBC Breakfast and Victoria Derbyshire. However, the likes of Jenni Murray, Lyse Doucet and Samira Ahmed remain absent.

4.  Barker vs John McEnroe

Sue Barker, BBC Pictures, SL

Sue Barker is the anchor for much of the BBC’s tennis broadcasting, fronting coverage of Wimbledon, Queen’s, the ATP World Tour Finals and the Australian Open.

But while her salary was listed as £300k-£349k last year, it’s since dropped to £190k-£199k, which puts her in the same bracket as John McEnroe.

McEnroe’s only BBC commitment is his Wimbledon TV and radio appearances and, while popular, the ex-tennis player and pundit drew criticism earlier this year for his hefty salary when it emerged the BBC paid him ten times more than Martina Navratilova. The female tennis star discovered the discrepancy when last year’s pay was published and acknowledged that McEnroe is on screen more than she is. But… “Ten times as much? I don’t think so,” she told BBC’s Panorama.

5. Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Winkleman, BBC Pictures, SL

Claudia Winkleman hit headlines last year when it emerged she was the BBC’s highest paid female star with a pay packet of £450k-£499k.

She still is – but this time around, her published pay stands at the reduced figure of £370k-£379k.

Before you jump to the conclusion that the Beeb have docked the pay of their top female talent, it’s important to note that the published figure may not represent Winkleman’s full salary.

The Corporation is not required to publish earnings attributed to BBC Studios which, since last year, has merged with BBC Worldwide to become a single commercial operation – an independent production company making the likes of EastEnders, Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Top Gear. It is not underpinned by the licence fee so its salaries may remain private, and shows like Strictly and Casualty no longer need to reveal the salaries it pays the likes of Winkleman and Casualty’s Derek Thompson (who last year it was revealed took home £350k-£399k).


Winkleman’s published figure is attributed to her radio work and shows like Britain’s Best Home Cook; her full salary is likely to be higher.