Media BBC World

A poacher's charter: why the BBC pay revelations don't paint the full picture


By Andrew Eborn | president

July 24, 2017 | 11 min read

As I predicted, the media burst a blood vessel when under the terms of the new Royal Charter the BBC released the salaries of stars earning more than £150,000.

BBC salary list reveals major gender disparity among top earners, industry reacts

Again we were inundated with everyone’s views – several using the story to promote their own wares and services.

Many commentators who focused merely on the size of the stars’ packages, however, missed the main issues.

So what are the facts and the figures?

The figures are set out in full below for ease of reference and – let's be honest – to help The Drum with stickiness. This transparency is infectious!

What they reveal is both a gender and a diversity pay gap.

Just a third on the list were women. All seven of the top earners were men. Only Claudia Winkleman and Fiona Bruce made it into the top 10.

Former Top Gear host Chris Evans topped the list, suggesting that he may be the BBC's top earner, with a salary bracket of £2.2 million to £2.49 million.

Claudia Winkleman – the best paid female star on between £450,000 and £500,000 – is reported as receiving a fifth of what Evans collected.

Similarly Clare Balding apparently received about a tenth of Gary Lineker’s pay, earning £150,999–£199,999 compared to his £1.75m–£1.79m.

A number of prominent female presenters – including Emily Maitlis, the news presenter, Sarah Montague, the presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, and Louise Minchin, who presents BBC Breakfast – did not even make the list.

This is additionally painful for the female stars where their male co-presenters do make the list such as John Humphrys, who presents Today and Mastermind and was apparently paid £600,000–£649,999.

The published figures also reveal a huge diversity gap. Only 10 of the BBC's 96 highest-paid are non-white. To add fuel to the fee flames, the total pay for those 10 people equates to about the same as Chris Evans receives.

Predictably, comparison with real people’s wages also gave rise to indignation. Several pointed out that Derek Thompson, who plays Charlie Fairhead in Casualty, received 10 times more than a real nurse.

Although to be fair it is rather like saying that Robert De Niro should receive a normal taxi driver’s pay…

Thompson, on £350,000 - £399,999, apparently received more than Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, on £200,000 - £249,999. That said, it's good to see a nurse earning more than a doctor.

As usual, however, the released figures do not provide the full picture and accordingly are misleading.

There is no distinction made between people who are paid for doing multiple jobs and those who are paid for just one.

The figures also only include what the BBC pays its talent directly. Accordingly it does not reveal any information where a presenter is paid by an independent production company or by the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

We are given no figures in connection with stars' earnings for several high-profile drama series because they were made by independent production companies, for example Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and Taboo, which starred Tom Hardy.

The true size of Graham Norton’s package is significantly more than the figures reported. The amount he collects for The Graham Norton Show is not included as it is paid through his independent production company.

There are also several other notable omissions such Sir David Attenborough, David Dimbleby, Top Gear’s Matt LeBlanc and most of the stars of the Great British Bake Off – apart from Mel Giedroyc.

The figures by themselves are misleading unless they are put into perspective.

We are often told that market forces are the reasons why the stars are paid so much. To help put the figures into perspective they should be put side by side with the rest of the market.

Chris Evans’ pay packet of £2.2 million to £2.49 million is miniscule compared to Ant & Dec’s, who last year signed a three-year deal with ITV reportedly worth £30 million – £5 million each per year.

By revealing only part of the story it is indeed a poacher’s charter.

So what happens now?

This is not yet clear. While the BBC was obliged by the New Charter to make the pay disclosure, there is not a mechanism to judge whether the pay deals represent good value to licence fee payers.

Theresa May has criticised the glaring gender pay gap and BBC director-general Lord Hall has made a commitment to closing the pay gap in the corporation altogether."I have said that by 2020 we will have equality between men and women on air and we will have the pay gap sorted out," Hall said.

The BBC’s response is to cut male stars' salaries rather than increase female stars' salaries… that’ll be popular!

Since 2007 male and female players have earned the same prize money at Wimbledon. So why not on screen?

There are already reports of several female presenters looking to sue.

While we may lose free movement of workers through Brexit, expect there to be significant channel – and agent – hopping by talent.

We should also look to what happens in other countries. For example, since 1814 in Norway anyone can find out how much someone else is paid.

Norwegians can access other people's net income, net assets and tax paid.

This used to be able to be done anonymously but since 2014 it is necessary to use a national ID number in order to access the data on the tax authority's website. Predictably, as Hans Christian Holte, the head of Norway's tax authority, explained: "We saw a significant drop to about a 10th of the volume that was before. I think it has taken out the Peeping Tom mentality."

The fact is that partial transparency is not transparency at all but is merely misleading.

In the meantime, the importance of negotiation and having a powerful team around you is key. It has never been a better time to negotiate. I look forward to those calls…..

Andrew Eborn

BBC salaries


£150,000 - £199,999

Darcey Bussell - Contributor

Mel Giedroyc - Presenter

Craig Horwood - Contributor

Paul Martin – Presenter

Simon Schama - Presenter

£200,000 - £249,999

Gary Barlow - Contributor

Len Goodman - Contributor

Dannii Minogue - Contributor

Bruno Tonioli - Contributor

Alan Yentob - Presenter

£300,000 - £349,999

Nick Knowles - Presenter

£350,000 - £399,999

Tess Daly - Presenter

£400,000 - £449,999

Alex Jones - Presenter


£150,00 - £199,999

Kamal Ahmed - Correspondent

Jeremy Bowen - Correspondent

Ben Brown - Presenter

Mark Easton - Presenter

Gavin Esler - Presenter

James Naughtie - Correspondent and Presenter

John Pienaar - Correspondent

Sophie Raworth - Presenter

John Simpson - Correspondent

Kirsty Wark - Presenter

Justin Webb - Presenter

£200,000 - £249,999

Victoria Derbyshire - Presenter

Mishal Husain - Presenter

Martha Kearney - Presenter

Laura Kuenssberg - Correspondent

Andrew Neil - Presenter

Jonathan Sopel - Correspondent

£250,000 - £299,999

George Alagiah - Presenter

Nicholas Robinson - Presenter

£300,000 - £349,999

Eddie Mair - Presenter


£150,000 - £199,999

Adrian Chiles - Presenter

Greg James - Presenter

Shaun Keaveny - PResenter

Moira Stuart - Presenter

Jo Whiley - Presenter

£200,000 - £249,999

Mark Radcliffe – Presenter

£250,000 - £299,999

Ken Bruce – Presenter

Scott Mills – Presenter

Trevor Nelson – Presenter

£300,000 - £349,999

Lauren Laverne - Presenter

£350,000 - £399,999

Vanessa Feltz - Presenter

Nicholas Grimshaw - Presenter

Simon Mayo - Presenter

£400,000 - £449,999

Nicky Campbell - Presenter

£500,000 - £549,999

Steve Wright


£150,000 - £199,999

Jonathan Agnew - Presenter and commentator

Claire Balding - Presenter

Jonathan Davies - Contributor

John McEnroe - Presenter and commentator

£200,000 - £249,999

John Inverdale – Presenter

Gabby Logan – Presenter

£250,000 - £299,999

Jason Mohammad – Presenter

£300,000 - £349,999

Sue Barker – Presenter

£400,000 - £449,999

Alan Shearer – Presenter

£1,750,000 - £1,799,999

Gary Lineker – Presenter


£150,000 - £199,999

Laurie Brett – Actor

Letitia Dean – Actor

Tameka Empson – Actor and Contributor

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

£200,000 - £249,999

Peter Capaldi – Actor

Danny Dyer – Actor

Emilia Fox – Actor

David Jason – Actor

Rosie Marcel – Actor

Adam Woodyatt – Actor

£250,000 - £299,999

Amanda Mealing – Actor

£350,000 - £399,999

Derek Thompson – Actor


£150,000 - £199,999

Naga Munchetty – Presenter and Contributor

£200,000 - £249,999

Mark Chapman – Prsenter

Jools Holland – Presenter

Dan Walker – Presenter

£250,000 - £299,999

Zoe Ball – Presenter

Brian Cox – Presenter

Evan Davis – Presenter

£350,000 - £399,999

Fiona Bruce – Presenter

£400,000 - £449,999

Andrew Marr – Presenter

Stephen Nolan – Presenter

£450,000 - £499,999

Matt Baker – Commentator and Presenter

Claudia Winkleman – Presenter

£550,000 - £599,999

Huw Edwards – Presenter

£600,000 - £649.999

John Humphrys – Presenter

£700,000 - £749,999

Jeremy Vine – Presenter

£850,000 - £899,999

Graham Norton – Presenter

£2,200,000 - £2,249,999

Chris Evans – Presenter

If there are particular stories you feel should be subjected to a pressure test to find out whether they really stand up to serious scrutiny or you want help to avoid the predictable errors and omissions of others and/or to swell your pay package, get in touch...

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn and @OctopusTV

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