‘The BBC has a serious problem with older women’ Miriam O’Reilly claims after legal battle

Miriam O’Reilly, 64, was axed from Countryfile back in 2009 and took the broadcaster to court, accusing them of age discrimination. At the time, she was 53 and one of four female presenters over the age of 40 who had been dropped from the line-up.

She had worked on the BBC rural programme, alongside John Craven, for nearly 10 years.

At the time, Miriam claims she was told the show was being refreshed and that she was no longer needed.

In a new interview, the presenter hit out at the BBC, claiming there is still a problem.

She said: “Despite years of pressure, including legal action, the corporation is still resisting putting older women on TV.”

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In 2001, Miriam claimed that she was hounded out of the BBC after being blamed for newspaper stories criticising the corporation for dropping middle-aged women presenters.

The tribunal upheld her claim for age discrimination and victimisation but not sex discrimination.

After winning the case at the time, she told The Guardian: “Words cannot describe how happy I feel.

“It’s historic and it’s going to have huge implications for all broadcasters.”

The BBC issued an apology and said it was “committed to fair selection” and “clearly did not get it right in this case”.

They added it will be giving additional training to senior editorial executives and give guidance on selecting presenters fairly.

Countryfile presenters currently consist of a mix of men and female, with 81-year-old John as the oldest.

Their oldest female host is long-running star Charlotte Smith, who is 57.

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times – out now.


Daily Express

The Daily Express is a daily national middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. Published in London, it is the flagship of Express Newspapers, owned by publisher Reach plc. It was first published as a broadsheet in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson. Its sister paper, the Sunday Express, was launched in 1918.

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