Radio 4 presenter Libby Purves says BBC stations are becoming ageist and sexist as bosses don’t want ‘grey and stout’ women on the radio
The BBC won’t let female radio presenters become ‘grey and stout’ as its stations are becoming ageist and sexist, broadcaster Libby Purves has claimed.
The 70-year-old said the growth of websites and social media has made bosses increasingly concerned with image.
Miss Purves, who has presented on Radio 4 for 40 years, said she resented the fact men ‘get away with it’ – no matter their age or looks.
Her comments come after the BBC axed Sue Barker, 64, as host of A Question Of Sport and Jenni Murray, 70, and Jane Garvey, 56, announced they were leaving Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this year.
Broadcaster Libby Purves, 70, has claimed that the BBC won’t let female radio presenters become ‘grey and stout’ as its stations are becoming ageist and sexist
Miss Purves said the growth of websites and social media has made bosses more concerned with image. It comes after the BBC axed Sue Barker, 64, (above) as A Question Of Sport host
Miss Purves said that in the past ‘you could get older unless your voice actually quavered and your phrases and opinions marked you out as an old buffer’.
‘But the coming of websites [and] social media… is making radio seek an image more visual, thus ageist,’ she told Radio Times.
‘The middle-aged female must struggle to look youthful… Equality will come when women are allowed to be grey, stout and in proper cardigans.’
She added: ‘On TV it has always mattered, and annoyed older women.
‘It’s a visual medium, far more tolerant of verbal mediocrity than radio, and frankly all sexes enjoy looking at prettiness, slenderness, abundant blonde hair and a good leg.
‘Observe that of the over-50 women above, most look far younger. And they work on it. The men don’t have to.’
Miss Purves’s comments came after Jenni Murray, 70, (above) and Jane Garvey, 56, announced that they were leaving Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this year
The former presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Midweek added: ‘In radio, age never used to matter a jot… We resisted the visual and grumped at photographers.
‘When they put a webcam in her studio, Jenni Murray famously draped a pashmina over it.
‘When radio presenters met people, we were usually told “I’d imagined you taller – and thinner”… The nearly 50-something Zoe Ball flicks designedly youthful hair, Lauren Laverne looks 25, not 42, and Mishal Husain is basically a goddess anyway.
‘If there’s a grudge to be grudged, it’s that the chaps of all ages can inform, educate and entertain while looking like Benny Hill or Old Steptoe – and get away with it.
‘It’s not all about numbers.’