Viewpoint: Why are there so few women over 50 on the TV

From l to r: Nicholas Lockwood, Prof Simon Maskell, Dr Alex Phillips and Andre Finn.

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Karen Ross is a Professor in the University of Liverpool’s Department of Communication and Media

“Along with most other people in the audience, I cried when M died in Skyfall and laughed when Dame Maggie delivered killer lines in Quartet, but these stellar performers and performances are as infrequent as the number of older women we see on the small screen, especially in the role of presenter, as shown in yet another piece of research just published.

“Really, what’s going on?

“Why are broadcasters consigning fantastic women to Room 101 at the first sign of a grey hair or laugh line? 

”Do we really become unwatchable when the biological clock tips over 40? Do we repulse the audience with our crepe-skinned hands, our baggy necks, our drooping behinds?”
Do we really become unwatchable when the biological clock tips over 40? Do we repulse the audience with our crepe-skinned hands, our baggy necks, our drooping behinds?

“Oh, hang on a minute, what about the Davids Dimbleby, Attenborough and Suchet?  Fine men all but they have seen many many summers between them and doubtless employ the skills of clever tailors, yet no one wants to boot them off the screen.

“The successful legal actions brought by highly competent and professional women such as Anna Ford and Miriam Reilly against broadcasters on grounds of ageism seem to have done little to shift the thinking of the those who ‘terminate’ women’s contracts when they apparently stop being dolly mixtures and start being cough candy.

“I am very happy to pursue a policy which puts the best people in the job but not when the person spec has the hidden requirement to button on the right.”

Original story

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