Sexist BBC is obsessed with looks, says Clare Balding"s partner Alice Arnold


'Clare isn't your typical female presenter': Ms Balding's partner Alice Arnold says sexist BBC is obsessed with looks (who could she be talking about, Tess)
Alice Arnold said she wanted to speak
out about sexism and ageism at BBC 50-year left BBC Radio two weeks ago to help Clare Balding with her career'Clare isn't your typical female presenter and has got where she is on talent'

By
Lucy Osborne

PUBLISHED:

01:18 GMT, 9 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

03:30 GMT, 9 January 2013


Partners: Alice Arnold (left) and BBC star presenter Clare Balding (right) at their civil ceremony in 2006

Partners: Alice Arnold (left) and BBC star presenter Clare Balding (right) at their civil ceremony in 2006

The BBC is too concerned with the appearance of its female presenters, according to one of its former newsreaders.

Alice Arnold – the partner of one of the corporation’s star presenters, Clare Balding – said she wanted to speak out about sexism and ageism at the BBC.

Miss Arnold, who left BBC Radio two weeks ago to help Miss Balding with her career, said: ‘You look at men of a certain age or appearance who are on TV and think: “If you were a woman, you wouldn’t be there”.

‘It’s a constant struggle in a culture that prizes looks and youth so highly, but the BBC needs to stand up and say “No”.

‘Clare is a very good example of breaking that mould.’

The 50-year-old told the London Evening Standard: ‘She’s not your typical female presenter – and thank goodness for it.

‘She’s got where she is on talent. She is very aware of trying to push forward change. If you’re in a position where people will look at you and listen to you then you have to grasp that opportunity. We both feel very strongly about it.’

Last Saturday Miss Balding, 41, hosted the first of a six-part quiz show, Britain’s Brightest Brain, thereby replacing Tess Daly as the face of weekend primetime, after Strictly Come Dancing finished its latest run at Christmas.

Miss Balding and Miss Arnold have been together for ten years and celebrated the sixth anniversary of their civil partnership last year.

Miss Arnold admitted she was heavily involved in her partner’s professional life – as adviser, collaborator and even as a wardrobe mentor.

While she said she quit her role to pursue new ‘challenges’, the former actress and lawyer confessed that ‘a house doesn’t run itself’.

She said of Miss Balding’s packed schedule: ‘Occasionally I have to tell her to take the time to breathe, to slow down.

Clare Balding

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing

Switches: Clare Balding (left) hosted the first of a six-part quiz show, Britain’s Brightest Brain, thereby replacing Tess Daly (right) as the face of weekend primetime, after Strictly Come Dancing finished its latest run

Loan voice: Alice Arnold, a former Today programme newsreader, is bothered by the lack of female voices on air, and said: 'Sarah Montague (pictured left, with Jim Naughtie) is great, but she's the only one out of five'

Loan voice: Alice Arnold, a former Today programme newsreader, is bothered by the lack of female voices on air, and said: 'Sarah Montague (pictured left, with Jim Naughtie) is great, but she's the only one out of five'

‘Last night we were trying to carve out time to go to America to publicise her book, and the most we could find was four days out of the whole year.’

The first thing the couple did after Miss Arnold left the BBC was rearrange the office in their house in Chiswick, west London, so that their desks could face each other so they could ‘work on projects together’.

'You look at men of a certain age or appearance who are on TV and think: “If you were a woman, you wouldn’t be there”. It’s a constant struggle in a culture that prizes looks and youth so highly, but the BBC needs to stand up and say “No”'

Alice Arnold

As a former newsreader for the Today programme, Miss Arnold is also bothered by the lack of female voices first thing in the morning, which George Entwistle, during his brief tenure as director-general, vowed to address.

‘Radio 4 on the whole is good for using serious female presenters, but the Today programme lets it down badly,’ she said.

‘Sarah Montague is great, but she’s the only one out of five.

‘It’s such a missed opportunity. If I was in charge, I’d certainly be pushing for more female presenters and contributors.’

Miss Balding’s profile rose to a new level following her widely praised presenting of the Olympics on the BBC and Paralympics on Channel 4.