Dimbleby criticises ageism in TV

TV veteran David Dimbleby has criticised the BBC and other broadcasters for demeaning older women.

TV execs told 'young women will bring bigger audience'

Veteran TV presenter David Dimbleby has spoken out over the issue of age discrimination in TV.

Speaking to the Radio Times he said there was a section of television executives who "are always being hammered" to get the biggest audience, and they are told "attractive young women will bring in a bigger audience".

Former Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive

The discussion began when Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly won an age discrimination case against the BBC after she was rejected for a role on a revamped version of the rural affairs programme.

Alesha Dixon replaced Arlene Phillips on Strictly Come Dancing Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

The Controversy continued when Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips was replaced with younger Alesha Dixon, despite the then director general Mark Thompson saying that the corporation had "taken on board" that viewers wanted "much more than just youth on screen".

Dimbleby: Ageism in TV is a 'crazy waste of talent'

Question Time presenter David Dimbleby has entered the debate about ageism and sexism in TV.

Speaking to the Radio Times, he said:

There is a section among television executives who are always being hammered - quite wrongly in my view - to get the biggest possible audience, and [they are told] attractive young women will bring in a bigger audience than less attractive, older women - to say nothing of less attractive older men, like me.

That's the way the TV - not just the BBC - industry works. And I think it's wrong. If you look at American TV you'll find it keeps women at work. They use their experience in that same way that they would use John Simpson's experience or mine, such as it is. It's just a cultural shift that's needed. And I agree that it is demeaning to women and I also think it's a crazy loss of talent.

Read: Older women 'disappear from TV' - Labour survey

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Dimbleby enters debate about sexism and ageism in TV

David Dimbleby has criticised the BBC and other broadcasters for demeaning older women.

The TV veteran was brought into the debate about sexism when when former newsreader Anna Ford branded him a "charming dinosaur".

Question Time presenter David Dimbleby Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The former Six O'Clock News presenter said that she wondered how "charming dinosaurs" such as Dimbleby and John Simpson continued to win BBC contracts when "however hard I look, I fail to see any woman of the same age, the same intelligence and the same rather baggy looks" on the small-screen.

When asked about Ford getting angry about the issue by the Radio Times, Dimbleby said: "Well, I don't know that she does. I think she gets terribly cross about not being on television herself, I think."

He added: "Why should age matter with women? Women mature elegantly and better than men, very often. I don't think age should be a factor for women appearing on television."

Read: Women on TV 'disappear' because they raise children