In a bylined article in today’s Daily Mail, Thompson confesses that there are “manifestly too few older women broadcasting on the BBC”, expressing hopes an age-discrimination employment tribunal brought by ex-Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly, 54, would be seen as a “turning point”.
While BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders is “outstanding”, Thompson says there are simply not enough women in “key news and current affairs presenting roles” - singling out the “big political interviews”.
Citing a “revolution” in the number of older women in leadership roles at the BBC, Thompson concedes there has not been the “same rate or scale of change” on screen.
Thompson wrote that a “thoughtful critic” of the BBC might “make two searching points”.
“First, that there is an underlying problem, that – whatever the individual success stories – there are manifestly too few older women broadcasting on the BBC, especially in iconic roles and on iconic topical programmes.
“Second that, as the national broadcaster and one which is paid for by the public, the BBC is in a different class from everyone else, and that the public have every right to expect it to deliver to a higher standard of fairness and open-mindedness in its treatment both of its broadcasters and its audiences.”