Veteran presenter Gloria Hunniford has struck a blow for the anti-ageism lobby by landing a prime time TV slot — temporarily replacing one of her Northern Ireland compatriots.
The popular TV and radio personality will stand in for Christine Bleakley on the BBC’s One Show when she goes on holiday in August.
She will be joined by Gethin Jones as a replacement for Adrian Chiles, who is taking a break at the same time as 29-year-old co-presenter Christine.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Gloria (69), who is originally from Portadown, said she was delighted to front the show for a week.
“I’m really looking forward to co-presenting the programme,” she said.
“This is a show that I have always enjoyed doing as a guest and one that has obviously struck a chord with the public.
“I love the breadth of the subjects covered and the involvement of the guests in these subjects.”
The former Good Evening Ulster presenter assumes the role as the BBC is embroiled in a new ageism row after Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips (66) was sacked and replaced by singer Alesha Dixon, who at 30, is less than half her age. But Gloria, who is currently filming Cash in the Attic for BBC1, defended her employer against accusations of ageism.
“I can only judge as I find and I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” she said.
“I started working for the BBC in 1969 and I have never stopped working for them.
“Ageism has been exaggerated. It’s all about balance. Angela Rippon, Jennie Bond and myself all host Cash in the Attic and none of us are in our 20s.”
Two years ago the BBC was accused of ageism and sexism following its decision to axe the veteran news presenter Moira Stuart.
The broadcaster also came under fire locally in 2006 for failing to renew popular TV newsreader Rose Neill’s contract, leaving no female presenters on Newsline aged over 42.
Gloria Hunniford and Gethin Jones take the helm of the One Show from Monday, August 17 to Friday, August 21.
The following week John Sargeant will join forces with Myleene Klass to present the popular prime time BBC programme.