The firing of a British TV presenter — and her subsequent discrimination lawsuit —has gotten some people talking about an "ageist-sexist" TV culture.
She was sacked from Countryfile at 53, alongside other female presenters in their 40s and 50s, while, for instance, John Craven, then 68, was retained. In the preceding months, O'Reilly was "advised" by fellow professionals about high-definition television and wrinkles and it being "crunch time" for her career. Ageist-sexist is still to be decided by the courts. Until then, stinking rude will have to cover it.
O'Reilly is now suing the BBC for wrongful termination.
As Ellen asks, if the host of a program like Countryfile — which reports on rural and environmental issues — isn't safe from this sort of lookist treatment, who is? And,
This desperate terror of the older woman, and what she might do, and who she might turn off with her terrible, non-telegenic "oldness", is pure lunacy. What are they so afraid of, that these women are going to start publicly whipping out sets of dentures and sticking them into a glass of Steradent at the end of each presenting segment?
It's not hard to make a leap to historical fears of the older woman as malevolent societal force. And at the same time, when we focus on these women's sex, age and looks, are we doing the same thing? It's possible, after all, for a woman to be fired on her own terms. But in this case, the wrinkle-centric "advice," the fact that her replacement was described by a senior producer first as "pretty" and the conflicting reports of BBC personnel mean that, at the very least, O'Reilly has a case...and one that in any event may expose a lot about the culture in which she works.