Strictly winner Stacey Dooley has signed a huge £250,000 golden handcuffs deal to become one of the faces of the BBC, just weeks after the organisation scrapped free TV licences for the elderly.
Ms Dooley, 32, will work exclusively for the BBC with plans including hosting entertainment programmes as well as appearing as a guest.
The star’s career continues to soar following her Strictly success and bosses were apparently keen to nail her down before any rival channels scooped her.
But the deal is likely to provoke anger as it comes after the corporation announced in June that the over-75s would have to pay the £154.40 fee for their TV licence for the first time.
Strictly winner Stacey Dooley has signed a huge £250,000 golden handcuffs deal to become one of the faces of the BBC, just weeks after the organisation scrapped free TV licences for the elderly
A source told The Sun that BBC bosses tied the star down because they were ‘absolutely terrified’ about losing her ‘to another broadcaster like ITV or Channel 5’.
However despite their fears, Stacey was reportedly keen to stay loyal to the broadcaster which has grown her career over the past decade.
The insider added: ‘You can expect to see a lot more of her on television over the coming months. They can’t get enough of her.’
MailOnline have contacted Stacey’s representatives for comment.
But the lavish spending on the deal for Ms Dooley comes after fury from pensioners over the organisation’s decision to scrap TV licences for 3.7million over-75s.
It prompted more than 240,000 people to sign a petition earlier this month opposing the ‘shameful’ decision.
One devastated pensioner said at the time it would sever a ‘vital lifeline for millions like me’.
The deal comes after the corporation announced in June that the over-75s would have to pay the £154.40 fee for their TV licence for the first time. Above: Attendees at the National Pensioners’ Convention in Blackpool in June protested the BBC’s decision to abolish free licence fees for millions of over-75s
Scores of pensioners also waved placards and chanted slogans outside London’s New Broadcasting House, in Portland Place, central London, in June
And ITV presenter Susanna Reid was forced to back tears on Good Morning Britain as an elderly woman begged her to stop the BBC snatching away her main source of entertainment.
Another pensioner, David, 84, said there were ‘millions like me’ who would suffer because of the move.
‘The TV is a vital lifeline for me… and I’m not alone, there are millions of us who are in exactly the same situation,’ he said.
The broadcaster, 32, will work exclusively for the BBC with plans including hosting entertainment programmes as well as appearing as a guest
‘If the TV was withdrawn they would vegetate. That’s a very serious situation and it puts a very great cost on the NHS. That’s what they need to think through.’
And the deal with Ms Dooley also comes after the BBC was heavily criticised over its £1billion wage bill.
It emerged earlier this month that the organisation has increased top stars’ salaries despite the decision to scrap free licences.
Gary Lineker, Chris Evans and Graham Norton remain at the top of the Beeb’s rich list, as the corporation hands out increases of up to £200,000 to women stars in a bid to cut its gender pay gap.
Golden girl: Stacey’s career continues to soar following her Strictly success and bosses were apparently keen to nail her down before any rival channels scooped her
Lineker raked in £1.75million for presenting Match of Day last year, while Graham Norton earned £615,000 for his work on Radio 2, up £10,000.
Despite leaving BBC radio in December, Chris Evans was still the second-highest earner on £1.25million, down £400,000.
And the BBC’s annual report revealed its total pay bill is now £1,078million, up £60million from last year.
The bill for top stars hit £159million this year, up by £11million on last year.
The decision to scrap the licences prompted more than 240,000 people to sign a petition earlier this month opposing the ‘shameful’ decision. Above: Pensioners gathered outside BBC headquarters in June to protest the move
Ms Dooley’s work with the BBC so far has largely consisted of creating BBC Three documentaries on hard-hitting topics.
The star’s career success comes after she reportedly decided to buy her own home after moving in with boyfriend Kevin Clifton following her explosive split from ex Sam Tucknott.
The documentary maker and professional dancer, 36, who met on Strictly Come Dancing, are also said to have ‘slowed down’ their relationship following their whirlwind romance.
Q&A: When will the new charge be introduced and will I be affected?
When will the licence fee change come in?
June 1, 2020
Who will be affected?
Anyone over the age of 75 will lose their exemption – except those on pension credit.
How many households could be exempt?
Around 3million UK households are eligible for a pension credit – which tops up weekly income to £167.25 for a single person or £255.25 for a couple. People who reached state pension age before April 2016 can also apply for up to £15.35 per couple per week if they have savings.
Half of those households – 1.5million – have residents over the age of 75, so would be eligible for a free TV licence. However, only around 900,000 actually claim the benefit.
How do I obtain pension credit?
Aimed at retired people on low incomes, both single people and couples, it is means tested but can be worth thousands of pounds a year. Call the pension credit claim line on 0800 99 1234. They will fill in the application for you over the phone.
You need your national insurance number and bank details along with information about your finances including savings, mortgages, investments and any other assets.
How do you claim a free TV licence?
You will have to show TV Licensing – the arm of the BBC in charge of collecting the charge – proof that you receive pension credit. This could be a copy of the letter you received from the Department for Work and Pensions.
How will it be policed?
TV Licensing will develop and operate an ‘independent self-verification system’ online. It will also provide pensioners who think they are entitled to the pension credit, but do not claim it, details of how to do this.
How much will the new scheme cost?
The continued exemptions will cost the BBC £250million a year, including the bill for hiring extra staff to talk to elderly pensioners about the changes face to face.
That is the equivalent to the budget for Radio 4, Radio 2, the BBC News Channel and some local radio stations.
Where will the BBC get this money from?
£100million from recent savings efforts that was supposed to go into programming and the £150million a year previously committed to the national roll-out of rural broadband.
The broadcaster was freed from that obligation as part of its 2015 deal with government.
Why not tap the high-paid stars?
Bosses rejected cutting tlaent pay because capping salaries at £150,000 would save only around £20million a year.
Could I go to jail if I don’t pay?
Non-payment of the TV licence is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to £1,000, plus court costs. Disobeying the court and not paying that fine can land you in jail.