Belfast Telegraph

BBC pay: Casualty's Northern Ireland star Thompson biggest earning actor

By Staff Reporter

Ulster-born Casualty star Derek Thompson has been revealed as the BBC's highest earning actor.

The 69-year-old has played nurse Charlie Fairhead in the primetime medical drama since it first hit the screens in 1986.

He's in the top spot for actor's earnings with a salary of between £350,000 and £399,999.

Co-star Amanda Mealing - who plays clinical lead Connie Beauchamp - is the highest paid female on the drama list with between £250,000 and £299,999.

Thompson got his big break in TV acting 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.

Meanwhile, the main political controversy over BBC pay disclosures has centred on the gender differences exposed by the list.

Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised the BBC for paying women less than men for doing the same job and insisted the organisation must continue publishing its top salaries to prove it is tackling the problem.

Documents setting out the pay for staff on more than £150,000 showed a big gap in the earnings of the corporation's most well-known male and female presenters and actors, with Radio 2's Chris Evans topping the list on more than £2m, while the highest paid woman was Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000-£499,999.

Mrs May said it was important the BBC "looks at the whole question of how they pay women and how they pay men for doing the same job".

She told LBC: "I think what has happened today is we have seen the way the BBC is paying women less for doing the same job as the men.

"I want to see women paid equally with men. The only reason we know about this, though, is because the Government required the BBC to publish these figures.

"The director-general, Lord Hall, has said that he wants to change this, he wants to make progress, he wants to abolish this gender pay gap.

"We want to see him doing that too. I think it is important the BBC carries on publishing figures in the future so we can see the progress they are making."

Labour indicated action would be taken if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister.

A party source confirmed that Labour's promise of a maximum 20 to one ratio between the highest and lowest paid staff in public sector organisations would apply to those directly employed by the BBC.

Mr Corbyn made no comment on BBC salaries during the final session of Prime Minister's Questions before the summer recess, when he concentrated on low pay. But a source later told reporters that policies in Labour's manifesto designed to tackle income inequality would apply to the BBC.

Stars employed indirectly through independent production companies would not be caught by the pay ratio, he said.

The source also said that the gender pay gap exposed by the BBC figures was "obviously wrong", adding that Labour was "committed to gender equality audits enforced through law".

Conservative former minister Anna Soubry said it was "a disgrace" that the BBC was required to disclose salaries.

The MP said: "This story is a disgrace, not because of figures but the fact that it's ever been published. I take objection on behalf of these people who have had their names and their salaries exposed in this completely undignified way. What this will do is that it will stoke up the politics of envy... People will say, well, why is a nurse worth less than Gary Lineker or Chris Evans, and that's a completely meaningless debate."

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