Opinion - Sexist TV bosses still behind the times

Charles Graham

Charles Graham

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THERE’S an interesting series of articles in the latest Radio Times celebrating the rise of the female television star.

It reflects in shaming detail on how, for decades, male-dominated TV companies restricted women’s appearances to children’s telly, domesticity-themed programmes and as window dressing in the guise of game show “hostesses.” Drama was the notable exception (although to have had all-male casts would have been restrictive beyond public tolerance even in the olden days, so high-profile ladies’ roles were necessary rather than desirable to the pipe-smoking bigwigs).

RT then published a list of TV’s most powerful women, including the ubiquitous Olivia Colman and Last Tango in Halifax writer Sally Wainwright. All of them fantastic talents and amply proving how stupid and pointlessly restrictive sexism is. When in many parts of the world women are still regarded as chattels, it does show Britain to be proudly blazing a trail.

But before we get too pleased with ourselves, I should remind everyone why these articles were produced. And that’s because for the first time in British history two women will co-host a prime time entertainment show, namely Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman on this Saturday’s new series of Strictly .

To think it has taken until 2014 for this to happen in a supposedly equality-friendly country is, frankly, embarrassing.

And, as one female colleague pointed out yesterday, even these two women wouldn’t have got the gig if they’d been as ugly or old as Bruce Forsyth!

Clearly we’ve a way to go yet.