Strictly’s Winkleman says BBC ‘getting there’ on closing gender pay gap

TV star Claudia Winkleman has said the BBC is “getting there” on tackling the gender pay gap at the corporation.

The Strictly co-presenter, 48, said it was right the BBC published the annual salaries of its top earning stars.

Radio 2 breakfast host Zoe Ball is the BBC’s highest-paid earner on £1.36 million, overtaking Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker, who recently took a 25% pay cut to earn £1.3 million.

Claudia Winkleman Is one of the BBC's best paid and best-loved stars (Ian West/PA).
Claudia Winkleman Is one of the BBC’s best paid and best-loved stars (Ian West/PA).

According to the BBC’s annual report published last month, Winkleman earned around £365,000 in 2019/20.

“I think it was really good that everyone’s salaries were published because I think it altered things,” the mother of three said.

“I think that’s good and it’s a public-owned company and people should know where their money is spent.”

Asked whether the BBC had made enough progress, Winkleman replied: “Not yet, getting there. You have to start the conversation.”

Winkleman said her own mother, journalist Eve Pollard, did not tell her employers she was expecting her until she was visibly pregnant but things had improved since then and would continue to improve for future generations.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating and it’s galling, but I do feel that progress must and will be made,” she said.

“It will be better for my daughter, it will be better for your daughter, it will be better for your grandchildren, it has to be.”

Winkleman was in conversation with Emma Freud at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote her humorous memoir, Quite.

Asked why Strictly Come Dancing was so enduringly popular with the British public, Winkleman said: “I think the magic of Strictly is that it’s like a snow globe of a show. It is like Christmas.

“I think people like seeing people try. So they like seeing people try when they’re baking for Bake Off, or when they’re making a skirt for Sewing Bee, or when they’re doing a rumba, and the magical thing… there are lots of shows where people sort of try a bit.”

She has been married to film producer Kris Thykier for 20 years and they have three children together (PA)
She has been married to film producer Kris Thykier for 20 years and they have three children together (PA)

Winkleman said she took the show very seriously, as many of the contestants did too.

“With Strictly there is an extraordinary camaraderie, there just is, because everybody’s doing this thing,” she said.

“The people who have chosen to take part are almost paralysed by nerves, because they are not dancers.”

Olympic boxer Nicola Adams will make Strictly history by becoming the first contestant to be part of a same-sex pairing.

“I think it’s brilliant, and I think she’s going to be fantastic,” Winkleman said.

WInkleman welcomed news that Olympic boxer Nicola Adams will be part of the fist same-sex pairing on this year's Strictly Come Dancing (BBC/PA).
WInkleman welcomed news that Olympic boxer Nicola Adams will be part of the fist same-sex pairing on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing (BBC/PA).

Referring to the first same-sex dance on the show last year, which attracted complaints, Winkleman said: “Yeah, but only 300, I look at it that way.”

Winkleman, who co-hosts Strictly with Tess Daley, said she did not know how many more years she has left in television but did not think she would stay at home.

“I love being there for the kids when I can be but I’m not a good enough homemaker, to just make house,” she said.

“I would do that badly. I would like to do something, but I don’t know what.

“What I love is the camaraderie off telly. I love Strictly as a show, predominantly run by women.”

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