Bbc Salaries

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 20th July 2017


Yesterday I was asked to join the ITV Breakfast programme and had I not been on the TGV to Avignon would  like to have accepted the invitation to clear up some misconceptions about the gargantuan salaries paid to some - a very few - who work in television.

For years I’ve suffered from the public perception that, because I worked in Television and with a relatively high profile, I must be rich. Far from it. Now, I suppose that misconception will be more prevalent.

I know it was 30 years ago but even so I’d have earned far more had I been a PA to a CEO in a job carrying a pension. I’d already been working in television for 15 years when I was ‘lent’ by BBC Radio to BBC Television News. I say lent because I was on a Staff Contract with Radio which gave me a certain degree of security. I don’t know if it still exists but there were 3 tiers of employment within the BBC - Staff carrying a Pension and with job security, Staff Contract with less security but still carrying a pension and Contract - with no security, no pension and the fear that one could be got rid of at a moment’s notice on the whim of a producer. I remember the PR man telling me that if I wanted the job I would need to sacrifice my Staff Contract and go completely Freelance.

So today’s ‘Stars’ are earning millions and though it is contrary to the ethos of what was envisaged when the Public Broadcasting Company was set up, that is the way of the world and though it is funded by the Licence Fee, the BBC seems to be in a ratings war with ITV and hence pays these eye watering salaries to keep their ‘stars’ in golden handcuffs.

When I transferred from BBC Radio to BBC TV News in 1981 I was paid the princely sum of £10,000 and for the first year a wardrobe allowance of £500. Over seven years and reaching audiences of over 14 million, my salary rose to the dizzying heights of £23,500 and still NO pension. 

I would have loved the security of a staff job but the bosses want the ability to hire and fire at will and very often, despite the viewing figures, the new boss sweeps clean and the ‘baby goes out with the bath water’.

Being a cautious Capricorn, every time I had any spare cash it was ploughed into the Equitable Pension Fund and we all know what happened to that - it went Belly Up and despite fighting them for 5 years I ended up with half the pension I should have received and I can assure you that was in single figures.

As for discrimination and the pay gap between the men and the women - it was ever thus. When working on ‘Pebble Mill at One’ in the late 70’s my colleague Marian Foster and I discovered that not only were the three male members of the team paid nearly twice as much as we were but they were also getting living expenses (we were having to fund our living away from home out of our own income - £6,000! ). As a united front of two we approached the Editor of the programme and I shall never forget his response ‘Ladies, if you don’t like it, there is the door’. We were doing a job many people would kill for and basically he knew he could easily replace us.

In TV News I was well aware that my male colleagues were paid a great deal more than I was but I wanted the job and had to accept the rather adverse terms. And in my day, we were prohibited form doing most outside work which would have proved lucrative.

Although the ‘Stars’ today earn eye watering sums, there are a huge number of ‘bottom feeders’ who are getting nowhere even remotely near what the high flyers are earning. And even when we do record programmes we are paid comparatively small fees and have to sign a form giving the Production Company for the BBC or ITV total rights to the programme without any residuals.

All that being said, and despite the insecurity, working in television as a reporter, interviewer and presenter has brought me great satisfaction, has enabled me to meet and talk with some fascinating people, and, apart from often being nervous before an interview, I’ve always looked forward to the next day. We spend so much of our lives working - what more could a man or woman ask. It is and continues to be a privilege to be part of the Television Industry.

When a member of the public greets me warmly and expresses gratitude for the pleasure of a performance they’ve watched, I feel humbled and blessed.

I’ve never even remotely earned the kind of money sloshing around in the industry today, but I’ve had an interesting and varied career and, at a time when I thought I’d have to ‘put my feet up’ I’m still working. Aren’t I lucky.

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