Kate Humble: sexism is 'excuse' for women who miss out on TV jobs

Kate Humble

'People come in and out of fashion - it's just the way it is,' says former Springwatch presenter

BY Clare Conway LAST UPDATED AT 18:18 ON Fri 8 Jun 2012

BBC PRESENTER Kate Humble has rubbished claims that women television personalities are marginalised when they grow old, during a debate at the Hay Festival today.

Humble, 43, said people who complain of sexism use the “slightly easy excuse” of blaming their appearance for “losing out on a job”.

The wildlife presenter, who left Springwatch last year after hosting the show since 2005, suggested women were more likely to fall prey to television trends than be dismissed for their appearance. “In media, people come in and out of fashion - it’s just the way it is,” she said. “It is a huge shame that there aren’t more older women in the media. But there are some.”

Humble’s sentiments contradict recent claims that the BBC discriminates against women. In March former newsreader Anna Ford said the corporation’s decision to appoint a “few” older women to present programmes was “tokenism”, while Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman called the organisation “old fashioned” in 2010 and criticised it for not “valuing the experience of older women”.

Notably, former presenter Miriam O'Reilly won an age discrimination case against the BBC last year after being dismissed from Countryfile for the younger Julia Bradbury.

Yet Humble argued today that contrary to being “left out”, the lack of older women on television was a result of people “choosing” to leave the media’s gaze.

Turning to fellow debate panellist Clare Balding, whose appearance AA Gill once described as looking like “a big lesbian”, Humble remarked: “It could be that a lot of women just don’t want to play the games that are perhaps necessary to keep going with a television career.”

Another recipient of Gill’s “carping sexism”, 57-year-old Meet The Romans presenter Mary Beard - whom the columnist accused of having “tombstone teeth” - fought the BBC's corner in April by insisting that the corporation had always been “100 per cent supportive” and had not asked her “to change my appearance”. · 

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 A A Gill isn't just cruelly accurate when describing women. I enjoyed his take on Dara O'Briain as 'the moon-faced Irishman'.

Attacking Dara O'Briain is one thing, he's perfectly capable of taking on Gill at his own game.Attacking Mary Beard is quite different, she is a gifted academic but she isn't equipped to defend herself against smartarses like Gill. Gill is a snide, shallow bully with no real talent, he probably resents Beard for her greater intelligence.

Why does anyone take any notice of the acid-tongued Gill ? He who criticises the appearance of so many others . What good is he ?

If I were O'Briain I'd slap him  hard enough to shut him up , permanently. 

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