Bakewell tells tale of Cabinet harassment

Joan Bakewell, the veteran television personality, yesterday offered a revealing insight into the sexual harassment she experienced in the late 1960s and 1970s.

"I was jumped on in a taxi by a Cabinet minister, pounced on by an opposition (Labour) member of the front bench - I think he's still a member of the opposition - and had my knee groped while interviewing someone live on air."

She also named a well-known television personality and a left-wing trade union leader, accusing both of sexual innuendo and harrassment.

Ms. Bakewell was the guest speaker at yesterday's Women in Film and Television awards luncheon at London's Dorchester Hotel. Women outnumbered male guests by 6 to 1.

Afterwards, Ms Bakewell, BBC's Heart of the Matter presenter, said that the incidents she referred to, largely jovially, had occurred before sexual harrassment was taken seriously and she wanted younger women in the industry to know that once it was really quite tough trying to forge a career alongside men.

Asked to name the Cabinet minister who had jumped on her, she replied: "I'm not telling.'' But she did say the knee-groping was attempted by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the late archaeologist.

She also told her audience that when she asked a former BBC executive why women could not read the news on TV, he told her it was out of the question because their clothes were too distracting, they would be so distressed by bad news that they would be unable to read it, and their voices were too shrill.

The main award for contributions to television went to Andrea Wonfor, Granada TV's managing director.