I’m sure you’ve already heard by now, but Fern Britton has quit This Morning.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Fern and Phil were the single best thing about being ill/unemployed/a student. With their buttock-clenching innuendo and moronically patronising life tips, they made my life have meaning. Well, if not meaning, some sense of feeling better about lying on the sofa, falling in and out of consciousness, while occasionally burning myself on the chest with a scalding cup of lemon and honey.
What is interesting about this story is the hint that Fern finally gave up on the show, in part, because she was being paid just a third of what her partner in this day time double act, Philip Schofield, was being paid. A third? She got a third of his pay packet, even though they both brought exactly the same skills and energy to the show?
We already know that Fern was getting paid 66% less than Philip Schofield on their evening gameshow Mr and Mrs [read all about it on the Guardian website here] and there seems to be evidence that the same is true of This Morning.
Now, as you would expect, this has been covered in different ways by different news media. The Guardian, who arguably have shown more interest in the equal pay debate over the years than others, focused on the possible wage scandal. According to the Guardian, while working on ‘Mr and Mrs’ Philip Schofield was being paid £45,000 per show, while Fern earned £15,000. The Mirror inferred that Fern Britton was simply a diva, claiming “Fern Britton quit This Morning yesterday because she was fed up playing second fiddle to Phillip Schofield.” Hmm, no explicit mention of the gap in their respective pay then. And The BBC made absolutely no mention of the pay gap, instead saying that Fern Britton would be leaving in July “to spend more time with her family and pursue new projects.” Followed by yet another dredging up the Fern Britton stomach stapling surgery , ahem, ’story’ because, you know, it’s always interesting and newsworthy to examine women’s bodies.
Now, the idea of getting paid £15,000 to present a TV show does sound ridiculous to someone who earned £10,000 per year in her first job (I’m talking about me, by the way). But, while the salaries of TV celebrities are no doubt ridiculous, the ridiculous pay gap between male and female stars is a scandal.
Right, I’m off to crumble a little bit of Ryvita on the floor for my lost homies. Goodbye Fern.