Belfast Telegraph

Nolan deserves his big pay packet but if he was called Stephanie rather than Stephen would he still get it? Alas, I doubt it

This week I want to talk about sexism. But first I want to get Stephen Nolan out of the way. Carmel on line 1 is right. There is a bit of the green-eyed monster lurking behind some of the criticism of Stephen Nolan's newly-disclosed, humongous BBC pay packet.

Mr Nolan, we learn, rakes in up to £449,000 per annum (not including payments to his production company).

Let's face it, who wouldn't be jealous?

So is he worth it?

Pro rata, in terms of the Beeb's Rich List, I'd say yes.

Nolan is a phenomenal grafter.

He not only does his daily Radio Ulster stint (and having worked on the phone-in show of my old friend Frank Mitchell on U105, I know something of the behind-the-scenes pressure that entails), but he also does his BBC NI television shows, plus he's a key presenter on Radio Five Live, commuting between here and London every week as though that was just a wee nip down the Ormeau Road.

Stephen Nolan is in demand because he is outstandingly good at what he does. He connects with his audience. Mention the name "Nolan" to just about every single person living in Northern Ireland and they'll know who you mean. That really is something.

What he brings to the Beeb is the voice of the common punter. Before Nolan, BBC NI had a much more sedate, some might say stuffy, aura. He hit it like a one-man talk tornado pulling in an audience of people who would not have been traditional BBC listeners.

So, set against what Lineker and Evans rake in, his pay doesn't seem quite so eye-wateringly outrageous.

The big question though - what if Stephen Nolan had been Stephanie Nolan? Would Stephanie even have featured in the £150,000-plus earnings league?

All the evidence says no. Even the very top-earning female national BBC "star" earns just a little more than Nolan.

Women, as we now know, hardly feature on the list at all. The rule of thumb appears to be that when two presenters are sitting side by side on the same settee doing exactly the same job, the big pay packet goes to the one with a penis.

It's as crude as that.

The only female winner at the Beeb in recent times seems to be the new female Dr Who, chosen, some suggest, purely to take the bad look off the corporation's appalling salary sexism. The actress now emerging from the Tardis will even be paid the same as the former (male) Dr, we're informed.

Not so much Dr Who then, as Dr Woohoo!

But it's still a rare win for women at the behind-the-times-travelling BBC.

Even the female stars of Casualty are cash casualties. The actor who plays nurse Charlie gets much more than the female actor playing the show's consultant. A rare case, as someone wittily notes on Twitter, of a nurse being paid more than a doctor.

No wonder then that female presenters, among them brilliant broadcasters like our own Wendy Austin, are angered to learn that the BBC doesn't so much pay them by the hourly rate as by the Women's Hourly rate.

I'm angry on their behalf. But I'm also angry on my own behalf as a female licence payer. It's not just the BBC discriminating on grounds of gender here.

It's the BBC discriminating with our money.

And now compounding the wrong by saying it's going to take until 2020 to redress this inequality.

Really? Maybe we, the female half of the licence-paying public, should launch a campaign to hold back payment for our licence fee until, say, 2020 too.

No need sisters, to chain ourselves to the Broadcasting House railings to get the message across. Just a big show of solidarity.

The biggest show in the country.

That's what you really call a hard border

Gerry Adams has gone to America this week.

Among other things, Gerry will apparently be raising with US politicians his concerns that, post-Brexit, we in Northern Ireland will have a so-called hard border. This is the same America, of course, which is set to acquire its very own hard border sometime soon.

A 40ft high steel wire border that is, between the States and Mexico.

Possibly accessorised with solar panels. Even post-Brexit ours will hardly be that hard.

Flier on brown rice gives food for thought

A local eatery - Camile on the Lisburn Road - has put a flyer through my door advertising its wares with a list of points regarding What's Different About Camile?

Passionate about healthy food, fresh and quality ingredients. In some ways it is all the usual stuff.

But what particularly caught my eye was the line about how they offer brown rice.

"Brown rice will make you more regular," the flyer advises.

And every business knows the benefit of regular customers...

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