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Women to feature in BBC’s top 10 earners list for first time

Claudia Winkleman

Three women will feature in the list of the BBC’s 10 highest-paid presenters for the first time after the broadcaster boosted female pay to close the gender pay gap.

Strictly Come Dancing co-presenter Claudia Winkleman will be the BBC’s highest-paid female star, followed by Radio 2 Breakfast host Zoe Ball and Vanessa Feltz, who also works on the station.

The list will be officially announced by the BBC later this week, but The Sunday Times has published some of the information after speaking to a source.

Last year, no women featured in the top 10 and only two – Winkleman and Feltz – were among the top 20 highest-paid presenters. Feltz presents the 5am show on Radio 2 as well as the breakfast programme on BBC Radio London.

This year, Today programme host John Humphrys and 5 Live Breakfast presenter Nicky Campbell will fall out of the top 10, according to The Sunday Times, as will Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine and Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw, who swapped his breakfast show for the Drivetime slot earlier this year.

The BBC, which will publish its gender pay figures in its annual report this week, is expected to say it is close to eliminating the gender pay gap for top talent in the current financial year.

When the Corporation first published the figures two years ago, Theresa May accused it of “paying women less for doing the same job as men”. Carrie Gracie resigned as China editor, saying the BBC was guilty of “pay discrimination and it is illegal”.

In 2016/17, men accounted for 76% of the 58 presenters and actors paid more than £150,000, a figure projected to drop to 55% in 2019/20. The BBC is expected to say that total spend on all talent, including low-paid contributors, rose from £148m to £157m, but said that was because spending on programme-making had gone up by even more while overheads had dropped.

A BBC source told The Sunday Times: “Two years ago we were criticised for our gender make-up and how we were rewarding people. We resisted transparency. We were wrong to do so.

“While transparency has led to stars being poached by rivals it has also allowed us to have an honest conversation about our staffing and whether we have been fair. The job isn’t complete, but we now have a record of change that we can be proud of.”

Chris Evans, whose pay of £1.66m ranked him second only to Gary Lineker, on £1.75m last year, left for Virgin Radio.

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