Casualty actor Tom Chambers denies defending BBC pay gap after backlash
Casualty actor Tom Chambers has said he "in no way advocates the gender pay gap" after he defended Ulster-born co-star Derek Thompson's salary.
Thompson, who has played Charlie Fairhead in the medical drama since its inception in 1986, was revealed as the BBC's best-paid actor, earning between £350,000 and £399,999.
Thompson got his big break in TV with a role as an IRA man in the 1980s Troubles drama, Harry's Game. He also landed film roles including a part in the gangster movie The Long Good Friday.
His salary was revealed after the BBC was forced to publish the wages of any on-air talent earning more than £150,000.
Chambers, who portrays Sam Strachan in the series, had said Thompson's commitment to the show meant he had earned his salary.
Speaking at the launch of his former Strictly partner Camilla Sacre-Dallerup's self-help book, he told The Sun: "It's like being a footballer - you earn your credits. I've just done six months on Casualty, but Derek has done 31 years of service."
The actor also addressed the BBC's gender pay gap as he contended that lots of men are bringing in wages for their families.
He told the newspaper: "My wife works really hard as a stay-at-home mum, but I'm the only one bringing in a salary for our family. Many men's salaries aren't just for them, it's for their wife and children, too."
After he faced a significant backlash for the comments on social media, Chambers said he was "completely mortified". He told the Press Association: "I am completely mortified by the stories that have run today and didn't mean to offend anyone by my comments, which have been taken out of context from a conversation I had at a book launch.
"I in no way advocate the gender pay gap and I was explaining that I thought it had stemmed from that past, and shouldn't be how things are now.
"I truly believe that change needs to happen."