The former Countryfile presenter, Miriam O’Reilly, was warned “to be careful with those wrinkles when high definition comes in” nine months before she was dropped from the show by the BBC, an employment tribunal in London heard today.
O’Reilly, 53, is suing for sex and age discrimination, which the BBC denies, after losing her job when the programme was moved to a prime-time slot.
In a witness statement handed to the tribunal she said comments by Dean Jones, one of the Countryfile directors, “sent a shiver” down her spine as he warned her, in February 2008, that high definition could be crunch time for her BBC television career.
She said: “I do not believe that a man would be asked about his wrinkles nor offered hair dye. It was clear to me that this was a reflection of the BBC’s view that women on TV needed to look young.”