We like to think that the cruder forms of sexism have been overcome in serious broadcasting. There may be few fat or misshapen women at the more tabloid end of the spectrum, presenting Big Brother or those now ubiquitous shopping channels, but that’s to be expected. In the big, grown-up world of current affairs, things are different, aren’t they?
Er, no, it would seem not. The BBC, so often accused of being a bastion of all things politically correct, fearless employer of continuity announcers with Jamaican accents, and general conscience of the nation, would surely never allow decisions on employing female reporters to be influenced by what a woman looks like? Would it?
Well, of course not. So I’m instead revealing the most extraordinary statistical correlation between good looks and journalistic attainment. And, blow me down, would you believe it, this correlation applies only to women. If you’re over-weight, unprepossessing, balding, out of condition and generally giving the impression that you’re most at home in a bar, and least at a Chippendales convention, you needn’t think this will interfere with your BBC career if you’re a bloke. But if you’re a woman, any of these attributes will stymie your advancement from day 1. In political reporting, you need to look like Laura Kuenssberg or Reeta Chakrabarti if you’ve got tits, but you can look like Gary O’Donoghue if you haven’t (except I think he might have.)
And another extraordinary thing. Women’s ability to report on things goes steeply downhill once they reach 40 years old. I suppose it must have something to do with the approaching menopause. Whilst men’s ability seems to go on rising, well, until they die. This must be true because the BBC continues to employ blokes even when they’re silver haired and distinguished, like John Simpson. But they put older women out to grass, like Kate Adie, as soon as the first microscopic wrinkle shows up on the TV monitor. The BBC would never do this unless they had to, obviously.
If you think I’m perhaps making all this up, I suggest you peruse the links on this page which show most of the BBC’s current reporters. And if you thought that only ever appearing on the radio would open the door to fat or elderly women, just take a look at Radio 4 Today’s Sarah Montague.
Let’s just keep pumping out the same old messages, eh? Broadcasting sexism – part of the BBC’s charter.