BBC advertises for disabled presenter - no experience needed

Emma Woollacott

The original wording of the ad.
The original wording of the ad.

The BBC has quietly altered a job ad after it was criticised for being overly-PC.

In a scene spookily reminiscent of an episode of W1A, the corporation has been advertising for a trainee weather presenter who must have a disability, but doesn't need any experience.

In one episode of the comedy, appalling PR woman Siobhan Sharpe successfully 'viralises' bearded Muslim TV meteorologist Sadiq Iqbal, calling him "the BBC's most culturally inclusive weather forecaster".

And now, in a case of life imitating art, the BBC is genuinely trying to improve the diversity of its weather presenters. "The BBC does not currently have any weather presenters who are disabled and we are actively seeking to improve on screen diversity," the ad explains.

"We're looking for men and women with a passion for the environment and the weather who have the potential to become presenters in the future. You don't need to be an expert or to have a qualification in meteorology, but we are looking for people with a proven interest in this area, coupled with lots of enthusiasm!"

In the past, weather presenters have been trained meteorologists employed by the Met Office; some have gained their experience elsewhere, such as Philip Avery, who previously worked as a forecaster for the Royal Navy, and polar meteorologist Peter Gibbs.

Above is how the job ad initially appeared. However this has since been amended - with a spelling mistake perhaps revealing a certain haste - to include the sentence: "This is a training opportunity with no jobs guranteed [sic] at the end of the training."

Below is a screenshot of the amended ad as it appeared at the time of publishing.

The amended job advertisement.
The amended job advertisement.

Successful candidates will receive a masterclass with current weather presenters on what it's really like to present the weather, sessions with a voice coach, training presenting to camera and a session with a stylist.

"You will be eligible to apply for future vacancies in the team," promises the ad.

Last summer, the BBC announced a series of measures aimed at improving its diversity record, including a new executive development scheme, a ringfenced commissioning fund and more training internships.

"The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more," said director general Tony Hall at the time. "I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average."

Currently, only 3.8% of BBC staff have a disability, compared with 18% of the UK population as a whole.

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