This is a public service announcement. Please mark down July 19, 2017, in your calendars.

Remember it as the day that the wheels truly fell off the BBC as the British public – and apparent shareholders in the corporation – discovered that we were all extras in a special episode of Goodnight Sweetheart.

For those unaware of one of British comedy’s finest creations, let me help peel back the curtains. Goodnight Sweetheart is a BBC comedy featuring Nicholas Lyndhurst who discovers that he is able to go back and forth between the present day (‘90s) and 1940s London, during World War 2.

The BBC revealed the salaries of 96 of its stars* earning over £150,000 a year as part of its new Royal Charter, setting the internet ablaze as third party offence swept the nation. But while some complained that fake nurses on Casualty earned more than real nurses, the true story was that two thirds of the stars on the list were male, and the gap between the highest paid male and female talent was £1.5million.

*The full list can be reviewed at the end of this piece.

Mutiny on the B(BC)ounty:

Prior to the release of the figures, there were no clear concerns over gender pay. Perhaps the public was naïve enough to believe that a corporation as large and iconic as the BBC wasn’t going to fall victim to the gender pay gap. They were wrong.

The list showed a business operating in an age of pale, male and stale, while espousing modern values. An embargo was placed on the release, something motor mouth and all round figure of derision, Piers Morgan, roundly ignored. Why should the BBC be allowed to put their ducks in a row?

Since then, there have been whispers that all is not well on the good ship BBC, talk of frosty exchanges between news anchors are just the tip of the iceberg, with Woman’s Hour’s Jane Garvey tweeting:

“I’m looking forward to presenting @BBCWomansHour today. We’ll be discussing #GenderPayGap. As we’ve done since 1946. Going well, isn’t it?”

BBC Breakfast host, Dan Walker, came under fire for making the list (£200k-£249k) when his co-host, Louise Minchin, didn’t. He explained that all BBC Breakfast hosts are paid equally, though his salary included his hosting Football Focus.

Third party salaries

Some questioned the big gap between stars like Chris Evans (£2.2m) and Gary Lineker (£1.75m) with Graham Norton (£0.85m), but this was explained away as stars Norton, Mary Berry, and the cast of Poldark, are also paid through a production company, who aren’t required to release salaries. Top Gear’s Matt LeBlanc is also paid via BBC Worldwide, hence why his salary was absent from the list.

Public outrage

Since the release, many people have taken aim at the BBC over the pay gap, including one member of the public who provided the tweet of the year, with this beauty:

BBC pay gap

Although a close second was provided by @harrisharrison:

Casualty bbc pay gap

Others have provided the stereotypical response questioning the licence fee, although if you believe that this will affect the licence fee in any way, I have a friend in Nigeria who wants to share his wealth with you.

While it is heartening to see so many journalists and MPs share outrage on behalf of the women at the BBC, Beth Rigby and Caroline Lucas to name but a few. It’s perhaps selective outrage as Sky hasn’t been forced into revealing the salaries of its journalists. If it had, I wonder whether it would reveal that Beth Rigby earns as much as her male counterparts?

Beth Rigby bbc pay gap

Caroline Lucas bbc pay gap

While many concentrate on the gender gap, others are equally concerned with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) disparities. Seven of the top 10 earners are white male, but only 10 names out of 96 were of BAME backgrounds.

Coco Khan bbc pay gap

The haves and the have nots

An article on Sky News by political correspondent, Lewis Goodall, further fuelled the flame of class inequality at the BBC, with this quote:

“I’ve been doing some research and number crunching. The list contains over 80 on-screen names. No fewer than 45% of the BBC’s best paid stars went to private schools. That compares to 7% of the nation overall.

Just think about that. If you send your child to private school it increases their chances of being one of the biggest names in TV and media by a factor of six.”

He added:

“Three in five of the best-paid BBC on-air journalists and presenters went to independent schools. That means you’re nine times more likely to be a top BBC journalist if you went to private school.”

“If you’re a working class girl, the odds are longer still. From Jeremy Vine to Mishal Husain from Sophie Raworth to Nick Robinson, the list is eye-wateringly long. Much attention was paid to the pay disparity on the Today programme, less to the fact that four of its five presenters went to private schools.

Tellingly, even among many of those who did go to state schools, the vast majority went to grammars. It’s possible to count the number of “bog standard comprehensive” working class boys and girls on one hand.”

Journalists are meant to be impartial and reflect the British public. From the bin collector to the managing director, society is a mixture of genders, backgrounds, ethnicities and beliefs but does the BBC truly reflect the British public?

Three in five of the best paid on-air journalists and presenters on the BBC attended independent schools, making you nine times more likely to be a top BBC journalist if you went to a private school. With that in mind, what about those individuals who were not afforded such privilege? As an organisation intended to reflect the everyman, this report is not only detrimental to the BBC but to anyone who aspires to be a top journalist or on-air talent without the aid of a private education. 

Who’s to blame?

While it’s easy to take aim at the people on the list as receiving salaries that far outweigh our perceived value for them, is it their fault? If your boss offered you seven figures, you’d hardly correct them that you’re only worth six, at best.

Likewise, you’re unlikely to find people fighting for the rights of gender, ethnicity and class, when it’s likely they were legitimately ignorant to them the whole time.

We’re not talking about a backwards corporation aiming for legitimacy; this is the linchpin of British television. A beacon with which we have looked to for decades to present the best writing, directing and acting talent our little isle has to offer. Classic comedies, cutting edge documentaries, compelling dramas – I mean, did anyone ever watch Only Fools and Horses and believe Cassandra was clearing the same as Del Boy or whether Denzil was pulling in that Boyce money, no of course not!

Be selective in your outrage, but be consistent. The BBC aren’t the only ones to blame for the pay gap, they are just today’s poster child.

The BBC has a lot to do in terms of restoring trust and respect, but they are not out of the water yet. It’s not a case of just paying people more and being done with it. Instead, they should look at all their talent, and regardless of who they are, they should pay them fairly and equally for their work. That’s part one, part two (which should run concurrently with part one) is about looking at how they can produce more opportunities for all people, regardless of class. The BBC should be inclusive, never exclusive and always open to new and exciting talent, regardless of the type of spoon it was fed with.

The BBC salary list

£2.2million – £2.5 million

Chris Evans, Presenter

£1.75 million – £1.79 million

Gary Lineker, Presenter

£850,000 – £899,999

Graham Norton, Presenter

£700,000 – £749,999

Jeremy Vine, Presenter

£600,000 – £649,999

John Humphrys, Presenter

£550,000 – £599,999

Huw Edwards, Presenter

£500,000 – £549,999

Steve Wright, Presenter

£450,000 – £499,999

Claudia Winkleman, Presenter

Matt Baker, Commentator and Presenter

£400,000 – £449,999

Alex Jones, Presenter

Nicky Campbell, Presenter

Stephen Nolan, Presenter

Andrew Marr, Presenter

Alan Shearer, Sport

£350,000 – £399,999

Derek Thompson, Actor

Fiona Bruce, Presenter

Tess Daly, Presenter

Vanessa Feltz, Presenter

Nick Grimshaw, Presenter

Simon Mayo, Presenter

£300,000 – £349,999

Nick Knowles, Presenter

Sue Barker, Presenter

Eddie Mair, Presenter

Lauren Laverne, Presenter

£250,000 – £299,999

George Alagiah, Presenter

Nick Robinson, Presenter

Ken Bruce, Presenter

Scott Mills, Presenter

Trevor Nelson, Presenter

Evan Davis, Presenter

Brian Cox, Presenter

Zoe Ball, Presenter

Jason Mohammad, Presenter

Amanda Mealing, Actor 

£200,000 – £249,999

Peter Capaldi, Actor

Danny Dyer, Actor

Emilia Fox, Actor

David Jason, Actor

Rosie Marcel, Actor

Adam Woodyatt, Actor

Gary Barlow, Contributor

Len Goodman, Contributor

Dannii Minogue, Contributor

Bruno Tonioli, Contributor

Alan Yentob, Presenter

Victoria Derbyshire, Presenter

Mishal Husain, Presenter

Martha Kearney, Presenter

Laura Kuenssberg, Correspondent

Andrew Neil, Presenter

Jon Sopel, Correspondent

Mark Radcliffe, Presenter

Mark Chapman, Presenter

Jools Holland, Presenter

Dan Walker, Presenter

John Inverdale, Presenter

Gabby Logan, Presenter

£150,000 – £199,999

Laurie Brett, Actor

Letitia Dean, Actor

Tameka Empson, Actor

Guy Henry, Actor

Linda Henry, Actor

Scott Maslen, Actor

Diane Parish, Actor

Hugh Quarshie, Actor

Jemma Redgrave, Actor

Tim Roth, Actor

Catherine Shipton, Actor

Gillian Taylforth, Actor

Lacey Turner, Actor

Darcey Bussell, Contributor

Mel Giedroyc, Presenter

Craig Horwood, Contributor

Paul Martin, Presenter

Simon Schama, Presenter

Justin Webb, Presenter

Kirsty Wark, Presenter

John Simpson, Correspondent

Sophie Raworth, Presenter

John Pienaar, Correspondent

James Naughtie, Correspondent and Presenter

Gavin Esler, Presenter

Mark Easton, Correspondent

Ben Brown, Presenter

Jeremy Bowen, Correspondent

Kamal Ahmed, Correspondent

Adrian Chiles, Presenter

Greg James, Presenter

Shaun Keaveny, Presenter

Moira Stuart, Presenter

Jo Whiley, Presenter

Naga Munchetty, Presenter and Contributor

John McEnroe, Presenter and Commentator

Jonathan Davies, Contributor

Clare Balding, Presenter

Jonathan Agnew, Presenter and Commentator

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