The BBC has been accused of ageism as plans to revamp the long running Sunday morning rural affairs show Countryfile has seen all of its middle-aged female presenters ‘Moria Stewart-ed’ from the show.
MediaGuardian reports that Countryfile – which will be moving from its traditional Sunday morning slot to a new evening peak-time broadcast – has ditched all of its current female presenters and reportes.
The only presenter to remain with the show is John Craven who has been with the series since its first episode back in 1988. The 68-year-old will be joined by new male and female co-presenters.
The ditched reporters are Adam Henson, Michaela Strachan, Charlotte Smith, Tom Heap, Miriam O’Reilly, Ben Fogle and Juliet Morris.
BBC insiders are reported to be suggesting there are some very unhappy people in the corporation at the moment over the dropping of the ‘middle-aged’ females.
“All of the female presenters, who are in their mid to late 40s and 50s, have gone,” one source told Media Guardian.
“They have been told they are not going to the new show and that the BBC wants a new lineup of presenters. The feeling is that it is down to ageism. The people who have made the show what it is now won’t get the chance to be on the new series.
“But why is it OK to be 50-year-old on a Sunday morning but not in the evening? It is an insult for these women not to be represented.”
Others suggest that the show will become a shadow of its former self; the programme currently picks up over 2 million viewers on its 11am airing on BBC One – however some inside the BBC feel the modern ‘youthful‘ Countryfile will alienate the older viewers. People watch the programme for its subject matter – not youthful presenters or what their race is. It is believed the BBC are trying to be politically correct once more by hiring colour over talent – something previously only Carlton Television carried out to devastating effect.
It isn’t the first time the BBC have been accused of being ageist. When newsreader Moira Stuart, 59, was dropped from weekdays BBC Breakfast, shunted to the weekend mornings and finally was ditched altogether – the news bosses were met with an angry backlash from viewers and staff.
“The BBC gets away with it because people are afraid to speak out. But there are a lot of women out there who are written off because they are 40, 50, 60 years old. It is rife and there is no recourse,” the Media Guardian source continued.
Aunty Beeb denied they were ageist, and pointed out that one of the new presenters is 36-years-old.