'TV shuns older women', says Kirsty Young as she criticises 'discriminatory' treatment
Desert Island Discs presenter attacks TV bosses for obsession with younger women
Comments: Kirsty Young is concerned about the vanishing of older women from television
Kirsty Young has attacked TV bosses for their obsession with younger women, claiming viewers do not just want to see ‘shiny 22-year-olds’.
The Desert Island Discs presenter, 43, claimed men were not treated in the same discriminatory way as women.
She said: ‘I see men on television all the time and I think, “Would his female equivalent be on there”. Not a hope in hell.’
In an interview with entertainment magazine The Word, the Crimewatch host stressed it was ‘smart’ to reflect the age of the TV audience, adding: ‘They’ll like you for it.’
She also criticised the BBC’s axing of Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips, adding: ‘I think it was very clever when Chris Evans took on Moira Stuart as his sidekick, to be honest.
‘People responded to that because they don’t just want to see shiny 22-year-olds with capped teeth. Why Because that’s not who we are.’
This comes as a BBC-commissioned report released last week revealed that both male and female viewers were concerned about the vanishing of older women from screens, with more than a third of women over 55 saying there were too few of their contemporaries on TV.
It was said that ‘a person develops “a face for radio” at a certain point in their middle years’ and were ‘replaced with what people felt were less qualified but younger, more attractive women’.
Viewers also felt women were treated in a different way to older men as people pointed out how along with older male newsreaders, names such as Sir Bruce Forsyth and Sir David Attenborough had carried on broadcasting well beyond retirement age.
The Desert Island Discs presenter criticised the axing of Strictly's judge Arlene Phillips (left) and praised Chris Evans (right) for taking on Moira Stuart as his sidekick
She recently said she did not get her big break as a 27-year-old, presenting Channel 5 news, ‘because of her looks’, which she described as ‘average’ but because they thought she could do the job. Miss Young also admitted she did not see why she should not be doing Desert Island Discs until she was 85.
In the latest magazine interview she also criticised the culture of 24 hour news warning the ‘ramped up’ style of much it risks turning the content into ‘white noise’ that risked the possibility that people ‘tune out’ during important stories. She added there was an element of ‘artificiality’ about the way headline stories are treated, which was ‘dangerous’.
She told The Word: ‘I’m ambitious to try to make a good and interesting life, and I hope that the days of women feeling they have to be apologetic for that are soon over.
‘I see men on television all the time and I think, “Would his female equivalent be on there”. Not a hope in hell. Not a hope in hell. Look at Arelene Phillips being chucked off Strictly a few years ago. I mean, whoever thought that was a smart decision to make’
Different rules: Sir Bruce Forsyth (left) and Sir David Attenborough (right) have both carried on broadcasting well beyond retirement age
Miss Young, who been a the forefront of Desert Island Discs 70th anniversary celebrations, said she thought now that people are being ‘scrutinised’ over the issue, they would make ‘smarter choices’.
She added: ‘Well, this is smart: reflect the people who are watching. They’ll like you for it.’
This comes after the presenter Kirsty Young recently revealed her drive to succeed stems from a ‘sense of abandonment’ after her father left when she was a baby.
She had told the Radio Times her early rejection has left her with a feeling of ‘not being good enough’ that has motivated her to prove otherwise. Miss Young’s biological father, Joe Jackson, a policeman, left the family when she was just a few weeks old.
Her mother Catherine married carpenter John Young – the man the star regards as her father – when she was a toddler and they have been married for 39 years.
In the BBC report for the Creative Diversity Network Viewers were concerned that women ‘had been replaced with what people felt were less qualified but younger, more attractive women’.
According to the report: ‘There was a particular and strong concern voiced about the lack of middle-aged and older female representation on television.’