'Charming dinosaur' David Dimbleby calls for cultural shift at BBC over age discrimination of women

 

TV veteran David Dimbleby has criticised the BBC and other broadcasters for demeaning older women.

The commentator and presenter, 74, was catapulted into the debate about sexism at the BBC when former newsreader Anna Ford branded him a "charming dinosaur".

The former Six O'Clock News presenter said that she wondered how "charming dinosaurs" such as Dimbleby and John Simpson continued to win BBC contracts when "however hard I look, I fail to see any woman of the same age, the same intelligence and the same rather baggy looks" on the small-screen.

Asked about Ford getting angry about the issue of ageism against women in broadcasting, the Question Time presenter told the Radio Times: "Well, I don't know that she does. I think she gets terribly cross about not being on television herself, I think."

But he said that it was time for the BBC and other broadcasters to change their attitude.

"Why should age matter with women? Women mature elegantly and better than men, very often. I don't think age should be a factor for women appearing on television," he said.

"There is a section among television executives who are always being hammered - quite wrongly in my view - to get the biggest possible audience, and [they are told] attractive young women will bring in a bigger audience than less attractive, older women - to say nothing of less attractive older men, like me.

"That's the way the TV - not just the BBC - industry works. And I think it's wrong. If you look at American TV you'll find it keeps women at work. They use their experience in that same way that they would use John Simpson's experience or mine, such as it is. It's just a cultural shift that's needed. And I agree that it is demeaning to women and I also think it's a crazy loss of talent."

The issue hit the headlines when Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly won an age discrimination case against the corporation after she was rejected for a role on a revamped version of the popular rural affairs programme.

Several figures, including Selina Scott and Dame Joan Bakewell, have criticised broadcasters on the issue, accusing them of banishing older women from the small screen.

The controversy has continued despite the BBC's then director general Mark Thompson saying, following criticism of the decision to replace Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips with the younger Alesha Dixon, that the corporation had "taken on board" that viewers wanted "much more than just youth on screen".

Dimbleby also told the Radio Times that he does not watch much television when he is at the Sussex home he shares with his second wife, with whom he has a 15-year-old son, and that, despite his own job: "I don't like being interviewed."

He said that, unlike Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson, he was happy to speak about his past as a member of Oxford's exclusive Bullingdon Club.

"I loved being elected to the Bullingdon Club and I'm very proud of the uniform that I can still get into. We never broke windows or got wildly drunk. It was a completely different organisation from what it clearly became when Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne joined, who seem to be ashamed of it, pulling their photographs and so on.

"But we never did these disgusting, disgraceful things that Boris did," he added.

Dimbleby, whose father Richard broke new ground when he commentated on the Queen's Coronation in 1953, said that Margaret Thatcher's funeral was "the most difficult commentary I'd ever done" because of controversy surrounding the event.

Dimbleby, who is set to front the People's Coronation, a BBC1 documentary marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation, said that making mistakes in his work was nothing to do with age but "a family trait", adding: "My father described Ted Heath (who was single) and his wife at one ceremony."

Asked whether he was vain, he admitted: "Well, I suppose that anyone who puts themselves out on television, week after week after week, obviously enjoys the limelight."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor