Casualty actress Cathy Shipton has defended her co-star Derek Thompson’s BBC salary saying he is “worth it”.
Thompson, who has played the character of Charlie Fairhead in the BBC One medical drama since its inception in 1986, was recently revealed to be the top earning actor at the corporation with a pay bracket of between £350,000 and £399,000.
His salary was revealed after the BBC was forced to publish the wages of any on-air talent earning more than £150,000 during its annual report.
The list of 96 on-air talent salaries published sparked a gender pay gap dispute as it revealed that its top earning male personality was paid at least four times as much as its highest-paid female.
Known for playing long-standing character Nurse Duffy in the series, Shipton told Good Morning Britain: “I was quite low down on the list but I was on the catchment part of the list.”
Asked whether she was angry about the pay disparity, she said: “Absolutely not. Derek and I started in the show thirty years ago, he has maintained… He didn’t start on that figure, I’ll have you know, so the show now really revolves around that character.
“Thirty years he’s committed to that show, that’s brought in so many actors, so many, all the crew working on the other side.”
Prompted by Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway, who commented ‘So he’s worth it?’, Shipton said: “I believe, the feedback I got, was that… he’s worth it and I think for 40p a day the whole BBC output is absolutely worth it.”
During his speech at the annual report, the corporation’s Director-General Tony Hall defended the salaries which are drawn from TV licence funds.
Lord Hall said: “Ultimately, people should judge the BBC on the quality of the programmes and service they get for their 40p a day.”
He also addressed the gender pay gap inconsistency saying: “At the moment, of the talent earning over £150,000, two thirds are men and one third are women. We’ve set a clear target for 2020: we want all our lead and presenting roles to be equally divided between men and women.”
Casualty, which is the world’s longest-running medical drama, will tomorrow air an episode that was filmed in one single, continuous shot.
Shipton said: “Actually for most of the cast, because we’ve been trained in theatre, that’s what you do, you get on stage for two or three hours of the night and off you go, you’re running the show so we could all fall back on our resources.
“I think the crew found it absolutely terrifying because they’re used to that stop and start and having to concentrate for so long, it was just exhilarating, it was just fantastic.”
The episode is part of the soap’s 30th anniversary celebrations.