Home / Insights / Blog / Ageism claim host may return to BBC

Ageism claim host may return to BBC

Ageism claim host may return to BBC

Axed presenter Miriam O'Reilly – who won an ageism claim against the BBC – could return as a daytime TV host for the corporation.

She revealed on Thursday that she has been in discussions with BBC daytime controller Liam Keelan about a role in the summer.

O'Reilly said she has "been talking about a month's work in June", during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live.

She brought a case to an employment tribunal alleging age discrimination, after losing her role on BBC1's Countryfile when it switched to a prime time slot. O'Reilly won the case earlier this year.

She is about to return to screens tonight for an ITV1 investigation into ageism on screen, Too Old For TV.

Despite taking on the BBC during her costly legal battle, a return may be on the cards, but she told Victoria Derbyshire that the daytime slot was not a done deal.

"I've had nothing definite yet – I'm still waiting to hear," she said.

She said it was difficult to know whether figures at the BBC would accept her coming back after the high-profile case which highlighted attitudes towards older presenters.

O'Reilly said she had heard personally from the director general Mark Thompson who "said he was very sorry about the way I was treated".

She claimed he told her the BBC had to change as a result of the attitudes her case had brought to light.

The BBC recently brought 63-year-old newsreader Julia Somerville back to BBC1 weekend bulletins, and O'Reilly said she felt her case had contributed.

"I certainly think my case has helped," she said

"I think this case will help other women in broadcasting. It's a landmark case. I think it will be a turning point."

O'Reilly said she had been contacted by a number of other female BBC presenters who were worried about the impact that ageing may have on their careers, although she declined to name them.

She said the case had taken a toll on her health, and had developed an irregular heartbeat because of the stress.

Ms O’Reilly's case and the story generally reflects a changing attitude towards age in the workplace which has arisen not least because of the changing demographic of our working population. In 2008 16% of the population was over 65 and this is predicted to rise to 23% by 2033. This changing attitide has been reflected in case law and employment legislation, most recently in the Government ' s removal of a default retirement age of 65. Many of the nation's largest retailers are promoting their age friendly credentials. In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that the BBC has sought to try to reduce some of the negative publicity it has received from this PR nightmare by looking at bringing her back.

Our Employment team provides advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions, including any problems that the abolition of the default retirement age may cause. For advice, contact a member of the team, call us on 08456 381 381 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk