ITV chief Kevin Lygo faces sexism row over email saying two top female bosses are leaving to ‘sit on their pink sofas’
- Kevin Lygo suggested women were leaving ‘to sit on their respective pink sofas’
- Departure of daytime commissioning editors Jane Beacon and Clare Ely
- Row comes at the same time as the network is at the centre of a racism storm
- There was an increase in number of non-white stars on the channel last week
Director of TV at ITV Kevin Lygo annouced departure of top TV female editors by suggesting the women were leaving to ‘sit on their respective pink sofas’
One of ITV’s most senior executives is embroiled in a sexism row following the shock exit of two of the channel’s top female bosses.
Staff reacted with anger after receiving an email from director of television Kevin Lygo announcing the departures of daytime commissioning editors Jane Beacon and Clare Ely, in which he suggested the women were leaving to ‘sit on their respective pink sofas’.
‘Can you imagine Kevin Lygo saying that about a male TV executive? No,’ said a source.
In a message shared with colleagues, another wrote: ‘What a shocker. It’s unbelievable in this day and age. How patronising.’
A further member of staff said it was a disgrace for Mr Lygo to ‘belittle’ the long-serving pair.
The row comes at the same time as the network is at the centre of a racism storm.
Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed how just one non-white presenter was used on screen during 18 hours of programming earlier this month.
Daytime commissioning editors Jane Beacon (left) and Clare Ely (right) who share more than 40 years of service between them
Ms Beacon and Ms Ely share between them more than 40 years of service to ITV, including overseeing ratings hits such as This Morning and Lorraine.
Both women have young children and shared the role of commissioning editor – each working three days a week – to allow them to spend time with their families.
In his email to staff, Mr Lygo, 62, wrote: ‘Alas, the time has come to say goodbye to Clare Ely and Jane Beacon. Clare and Jane have been doing a sterling job running Daytime Commissioning over the last few years, but have decided that after so many thousands of hours of daytime TV it’s time for something new. So, deaf to my protestations, they will be heading off to sit on their own respective pink sofas. Whatever they do next I’m sure it will be a huge success. They have been brilliant and I will miss them both very much.’
ITV hit daytime show Loose Women starring (left to right) Andrea McLean , Saira Khan, Stacey Solomon and Kay Adams
Last night, a female ITV employee told The Mail on Sunday: ‘If Kevin thought he was making a joke about their daytime shows having pink sofas, it didn’t work.
‘This Morning has a blue sofa and Lorraine a grey one. There are no pink sofas at ITV, so that has to be a reference to their gender – the girlie-pink thing. These are two highly regarded and long-serving employees. It is a disgrace to belittle them like this.’
The sexism controversy caps a disastrous week for ITV during which it was also criticised by MPs over unedited footage from the now-defunct Jeremy Kyle Show, which showed vulnerable guests being ‘bullied and humiliated’. Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has written to ITV’s managing director Julian Bellamy to demand an explanation for what MPs described as ‘highly unethical’ and ‘demeaning and insulting’ behaviour on the programme.
The show – which ITV has insisted took ‘its responsibilities around duty of care to participants very seriously’ – was axed in May following the death of Steve Dymond, 63. His appearance had been filmed but not aired.
The racism controversy was sparked when The Mail on Sunday revealed last week that there was just one non-white presenter on screen during 18 hours of programming on Tuesday, October 8.
Mail on Sunday story last week which revealed how just one non-white presenter was used on screen during 18 hours of programming earlier this month
That was newsreader Nina Hossain, whose father is from Bangladesh. She presented the ITV lunchtime news for 24 minutes.
In the wake of our story, it is understood that Mr Lygo – who worked at the BBC and Channel 4 before joining ITV in 2010 – called several of the network’s ethnic minority stars, including Good Morning Britain’s Andi Peters, to reassure them that improving diversity was a priority.
There was an increase in the number of non-white stars on the channel last week.
The daily chat show Loose Women featured non-white panellists every day apart from Thursday. They included former Apprentice runner-up Saira Khan on Monday and Friday, and singer Brenda Edwards on Tuesday and Wednesday.
ITV did not respond to requests for comment last night.