OVER THE RAINBOW? MORE PIE IN THE SKY…

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As a predominately female team, the Peppermints were horrified to see headlines in one national paper suggesting that Denise Van Outen had been stripped of her presenting role on ‘Over the Rainbow’, simply for being pregnant. A stream of angry comments ensued, but our frustrations were redirected as we continued to read.

Further through the paper’s analysis, it emerged that none of the five judges from the previous series are being asked to return, and that the show is, in fact, undergoing a complete revamp. As is done with many long-running programmes, Lord Lloyd Webber has decided to spruce up the show and replace all the judges and presenters, including John Barrowman. We can only imagine the coin toss to choose the headline – “Denise Van Outen axed for being pregnant!” or “John Barrowman axed for being gay!”

Matters went from bad to worse as the journalist changed tactic, and began to emphasise the age differential between Denise and her successor, Charlotte Church. This inevitably rolled into a resurrection of the Arlene-Phillips-replaced-by-Alesha-Dixon debate, and culminated in the portrayal of a BBC institution riddled with ageism and sexism.

Clearly, discrimination on the basis of age or sex is wrong, and it is certainly not something we would like to see inherent in our public media corporation. But surely, creating a story out of nothing and branding it as sexism in order to sell newspapers is just as damaging.

It is true that cultural progress is made by highlighting debates such as anti-discrimination and ensuring they are discussed at dinner tables across the country – this is exactly how change is ushered in. But this should be reserved for honest cases of genuine wrong-doing, and not tagged onto every non-story to give it added “juice”.

Suffice to say, we wish both Denise and Charlotte the best of luck with their new challenges, and we wait with bated breath for the next over-the-rainbow, pie-in-the-sky headline.