Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman

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MO-Reilly

Working in a female-dominated industry like PR, I take a keen interest in matters affecting the fairer sex – like the ‘O’Reilly unfair dismissal’ case, which reared its head again this week.

Miriam O’Reilly was a dedicated presenter of Countryfile for eight years, only to leave because the BBC moved the show to a primetime slot and traded her in for a younger model. She’s not the first woman to have found herself given such short shrift. Michaela Strachan, Juliet Morris and Charlotte Smith were also dumped as presenters so BBC bosses could bring in younger stars.

Predictably, when it reached court, the Beeb pleaded that its decision had nothing to do with Miriam’s age. However, after telling the judge that she’d been told to ‘work on her appearance’ and that it was ‘time for botox,’ the victory was hers.

The former GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips, who recently turned 50, supports Miriam’s determination, but says she shouldn’t be fooled that the case is just about age – it’s got more to do with sexism. Fiona sites the fact that we don’t hear moans about a wrinkled John Craven, Bruce Forsyth or Rolf Harris. In fact, Brucey seems to be unstoppable in telly land and he’s well into his 80s!

Isn’t it about time we were over the days of just watching young and beautiful women on TV and accepted that wise, older women are extremely watchable too? It’s sad to think we’ve come so far, but we’ve still got a long way to go. It’s 2011 for heaven’s sake!