As you may know, I’m a big Strictly Come Dancing fan, but this interview with co-host Tess Daly made me want to kick in my TV screen and never watch it again.
Has she ever encountered ageism or sexism? “Erm, not yet, but there’s still time. Ask me in a few years.” She gives a dry little laugh. “Obvious sexism? No, I haven’t. I mean, obviously, this is a business that favours men as hosts without a doubt and they’re often paid more for the same job so I guess you could call that sexism but, personally, I haven’t come across it yet. Nothing that’s damaged me or left a lasting impression. I’m the sort of person that just believes in getting on and making the most of the opportunity you’ve been given, you know: buckle down, work hard and hopefully you’ll prove your worth. I’ve been working ever since I was 17 years old.” All of which is very admirable, but hasn’t she ever stopped to consider why men in the industry are paid more for doing the same job? “I’ve no idea, it’s just a fact,” she continues, breezily. “I’m not complaining about that, I’m not making myself a martyr.”
Apart from anything else, she obviously has a short memory – she HAS encountered men being favoured as hosts, because when Bruce Forsyth was off sick last year, she was the obvious choice to “act up” and take over his lead presenting role. Instead, they brought in Ronnie Corbett – Ronnie Corbett! – to stand by her side, just to make sure there was a grown-up chap there to give the show its proper light-entertainment gravitas.
And then, having made it clear she’s not going to fight for the rights of 50 per cent of the world’s population, in particular their economic rights, she makes her political and moral views very plain in this little section:
When, in a roundabout way, we start talking about inheritance tax, she turns out to have outspoken opinions on the matter. “It’s disgraceful. It’s effectively triple taxation because you’ve paid tax on your earnings, you then buy a property, you pay stamp duty for the privilege of buying it, and then you pay for it for 25 years; you want to pass it on to your kids, but you can’t because they have to sell it immediately to pay 40% death duty. To pay taxes on a property that’s been paid for with money that’s been taxed!” Blimey! Does she consider herself political? “No, not really but there are things that I do feel quite strongly about and that is one of them.”
I also read an interview with Fern Britton earlier this week in which she says she doesn’t consider herself a feminist though she’s very grateful for all the battles feminists have fought and won to give her rights she’s benefited from. Are TV people really all this shallow and thoughtless, or are they just trying not to offend?
Image by Damien Everett from Wikimedia, shared under Creative Commons license