Graham Norton has lashed out at the annual publishing of BBC stars’ high salaries, branding the practice both ‘pointless’ and ‘rubbish’.
The broadcaster, 57, who recently quit BBC Radio 2 after 10 years to head to Virgin Radio, has admitted that he looks forward to no longer having his earnings published for public consumption – a factor that contributed in his decision to leave.
In an interview with The Sun, Graham – who most recently placed third after Gary Lineker and Zoe Ball with a £729,999 pay packet – criticised the fact that the list doesn’t comprehensively cover the earnings of employees.
Slammed: Graham Norton has lashed out at the annual publishing of BBC stars’ high salaries, branding the practice both ‘pointless’ and ‘rubbish’. Pictured in October
He told the publication: ‘The high earners list, which I didn’t like being on, hey, now I’m not. So to that extent it made me go, but that was a bonus of leaving, it wasn’t the biggest driving force.
‘The list is rubbish. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t tell you what people are earning because of how people are paid, which is why so many radio people are on that list.
‘It is pointless, but if they weren’t publishing it, there wouldn’t be that many women on it. When they first published it, they were properly embarrassed there were so few women on it. I think that list will become more diverse over the next few years.’
Back in September, the BBC came under fire after it published accounts showing that staff pay had soared 3.5 per cent to £1.5billion – while the Corporation pushes ahead with its plans to strip a million over-75s of their free TV licences.
Earnings: The broadcaster, who recently quit BBC Radio 2 after 10 years to head to Virgin Radio, has admitted that he looks forward to no longer having his earnings published
Published accounts showed that Zoe Ball is now the BBC’s highest earner after pocketing a £1million pay rise – knocking Gary Lineker off the top spot.
The Match of the Day star, 60, is understood to have signed a new five-year contract – and a nearly 25 per cent pay cut from £1.75million down to £1.35million.
Radio 2 presenter Ball, 50, is now earning £1.36million despite losing nearly a million listeners after the corporation pledged to tackle the gender pay gap.
They have been trying to level up the pay of male and female stars to repair damage to the corporation’s reputation and reduce discord among staff.
Equality issues led to the BBC handing out a settlement to former China editor Carrie Gracie in 2018 and then last year losing an equal pay tribunal case to Samira Ahmed.
Critics blasted its decision to reward its staff with a total 3.5 per cent salary increase even after it announced plans to slim down its operations following the pandemic.
In July, the BBC announced a huge shake-up of regional TV news and local radio in England which will lead to 450 job cuts.
Elsewhere in his interview with The Sun, Graham revealed that Chris Evans, 54, influenced his decision to make the leap to Virgin after he playfully suggested that the Irishman move networks, leading to serious meetings and offers.
Leaving gifts: On his final day at Radio 2 last month, Graham had shared a glimpse of the gifts he received on his Instagram, which included a cake with his face on and a Lego model
During his final Saturday morning slot on Radio 2 last month, Graham bid a fond farewell to his listeners after a decade presenting on the station.
He said: ‘It’s just a gig, it is just a job, but it has also been a privilege to be part of your mornings.
‘I’m getting emotional now. Someone told me I’d get emotional and I said “no I won’t, I really won’t… I’ll just think of the six flights of stairs I climb up, tears gone now”.’
He went on to add: ‘It has been a privilege to be part of your Saturday mornings because it’s lovely just sharing your lives and hearing your messages, and that’s been the greatest joy of being on Radio 2, it really has.’
New guard: Last month, Graham announced he would be joining Virgin Radio UK for a new flagship show after revealing his decision to depart BBC Radio 2
After playing his favourite song of Reach by S Club 7, he signed off by saying: ‘Biggest thanks go to you for tuning in and taking part in the show. I’ll miss you. Until the next time, stay safe and well.’
Graham is now set to join Virgin Radio UK this weekend, and will present a new show on Saturdays and Sundays with them.
In November, Graham shared a statement about his departure and said he was ‘surprised’ to be joining Virgin Radio as he was ‘content’ where he was, but didn’t want to miss out on hosting weekend shows.
Graham said: ‘I am excited and a little surprised to be joining Virgin Radio UK in 2021. I was very content where I was but the opportunity to host shows across the weekend seemed too good to miss out on.
Golden opportunity: In a statement, Graham said he was ‘surprised’ to be joining the network as he was ‘content’ where he was, but didn’t want to miss out on hosting weekend shows
‘Plus the energy and enthusiasm at Virgin Radio are infectious and I can’t wait to get started! Did I mention the studios are very close to my house?’
Virgin Radio UK content director Mike Cass added: ‘Graham Norton is one of very few truly unique talents in broadcasting. I’m delighted to be welcoming him to the Virgin Radio family in the new year.
‘He’ll be bringing double the wit, double the banter and double the love across Saturday and Sunday.’
It was announced in November that Strictly Coming Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman will be taking over his BBC Radio 2 slot.
Influencer: He has since credited Chris Evans with influencing his move to Virgin Radio UK
The star, 48, confirmed on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show that she would be taking over the position from February, which will see her host it between 10am and 1pm.
Taking to Instagram to gush about the news, Claudia said she was ‘gobsmacked’ to have got the role and felt she had big shoes to fill.
Claudia said in a statement: ‘I’m not often speechless but the chance to be with the wonderful Radio 2 listeners every Saturday has left me, quite frankly, gobsmacked.
‘I hope my voice comes back in time for the first show as I can no longer simply rely on a fake tan and a fringe. There’s nobody I’d rather be with at the weekend, it’s a privilege and an honour.’
Sharing another post detailing how she felt about the news, Claudia said she was ‘thrilled’ and ‘terrified’, as she joked ‘enormous shoes to fill. Send socks.’
Exciting: Claudia Winkleman is set to replace Graham Norton as host of BBC Radio 2’s Saturday morning show and said she was ‘gobsmacked’ about getting role