Belfast Telegraph

Dragons' Den female pioneer sure gender pay gap at BBC will be sorted now it's out in open

By PA and Staff Reporters

Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden has blamed the "terrible" BBC gender pay gap on historic market rates.

The tough-talking business expert also said it's "fantastic" that the salaries of the Beeb's top stars have now been laid bare.

The recently published BBC's annual report showed that only one-third of the list of talent earning more than £150,000 are women.

Meaden (58) told ITV show Loose Women: "I know what the other Dragons are paid", and suggested they were all on an equal footing.

"The whole gender thing, it's terrible... if you're doing a job and doing it well, you get paid the rate for the job," she said.

"It's probably market rates. It's kind of historic. Women didn't used to get the good jobs. It used to be that they got the quite junior jobs. It's got to move on but it's stuck to that a little bit."

But she added: "It is changing. It's a fantastic thing it came out. You talk about it, it gets fixed."

DJ Chris Evans topped the BBC earnings list on more than £2 million, while the highest paid woman is Strictly Come Dancing's Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000 and £499,999.

More than 40 of the BBC's most high-profile female stars made a public call last month for action on the gender pay gap.

Claire Balding, Newsnight presenters Emily Maitlis and Kirsty Wark, and One Show host Alex Jones were among those involved.

BBC director-general Lord Hall said closing the pay gap had been "a personal priority over the last four years".

He also stated: "I have committed the BBC to closing the gap by 2020 and if we can get there earlier then we will.

"We are not, however, making a standing start. Work is already well under way across the organisation to help achieve this. There will be wider consultation meetings over the next two months so we can accelerate further change in the autumn."

Stephen Nolan was the only Northern Ireland presenter on the published list of BBC top earners. His £450,000-£499,999 salary covered his work fronting his Radio Ulster and Five Live programmes, as well as his Nolan Live TV show.

Belfast-born Derek Thompson was the highest paid actor on the list, with a salary of up to £400,000 a year. He has played the character Charlie Fairhead in Casualty since the hospital drama's inception in 1986.

For many years Meaden was the only woman in the famous Dragons' Den chairs.

But she said of the BBC2 show: "I don't think we're male or female in that Den... I'm a dragon. I'm there to invest."

The programme returns to TV screens on August 20.

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