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Louise Minchin returns to BBC to plug book which slams 'sexist' bosses
Louise Minchin returns to BBC Breakfast to plug her new book which slams ‘sexist’ bosses – after revealing her ‘deep shock’ at ex-co host Dan Walker’s staggering pay cheque
Louise Minchin returned to BBC Breakfast this morning to plug her new book – in which she accuses former bosses at the programme of being ‘sexist’.
The 54-year-old left the famous red sofa in September 2021 after 20 years at the helm, but was back on Wednesday to discuss her second literary offering, entitled Fearless: Adventures With Extraordinary Women.
It comes as she today revealed her ‘deep shock’ upon discovering her co-host Dan Walker was being paid substantially more than her in 2017, a pay gap she spent her last four years at the Beeb fighting.
Discussing her time on Breakfast, she also writes in her new book how she challenged bosses over the fact that she rarely ever led the programme with the first ‘hello’ or interview.
She writes: ‘I had noticed that almost every day my male colleague was given the prestigious task of saying hello at the top of each hour, introducing the programme and doing the first interview.
Louise Minchin returned to the BBC Breakfast sofa this morning (pictured) to plug her new book – in which she accuses former bosses at the programme of being ‘sexist’
In the book she speaks of successfully challenging her BBC bosses about her co-presenter Dan Walker always being the one to say the show’s first ‘hello’ and do the day’s biggest interview — so from then on, it was even-stevens
READ MORE: Louise Minchin warns viewers will always spot problems between presenters following the feud with Holly Willoughby that cost Phillip Schofield his This Morning job
Louise (pictured) lives in Chester with David, 59, her restaurateur husband of 25 years, and their two labradors (her daughters are both away at university)
‘Why was I always the second person to speak, even though I was older and more experienced? What message did it send to our female viewers?’
She adds: ‘There it was: age-old, systemic discrimination built into the fabric of the programme.’
After complaining that she never got to lead the morning show, she claims that she was dismissed until she revealed she had kept months worth of notes.
She adds: ‘He [the boss] never asked to see my notes and from that day it was set in stone: every other day, the woman on the sofa was allowed to lead the programme, to be in charge.’
In 2017, the BBC revealed the names of presenters earning more than £150,000 a year. While Minchin did not even make the list, her co-host Walker was well within range with a salary of £220,000-£229,999.
She told the Times today: ‘It was this theatre curtain opening and I was like, ”Gosh, this is not my story. This is routinely happening across the board to my female colleagues.”
‘And I was deeply shocked. So at that point I’d already started the process and I was like, ”I’m an endurance athlete, I’m going to dig in and I’m going to do this.”’
She spent years attempting to close the gap, with the help of her union. When she left in 2021, Minchin was earning no more than £189,999, while Walker was on around £295,000 – although he carried out extra presenting duties on BBC Sport.
Minchin was initially replaced by Sally Nugent, who joined her co-host Walker – before he left to join Channel 5 last year.
But Nugent was missing from the couch today amid reports she has split from her husband of 13 years. Her co-start Nina Warhurst stepped in to join Jon Kay on the sofa instead.
They asked Minchin if she missed hosting the show, to which she said: ‘I miss you. I don’t miss the 3.40am alarm call at all.’
In her first book, Dare to Tri, Minchin charted her journey from the Breakfast sofa to representing the Great Britain Triathlon team in her age-group at World and European Championships.
Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary Women will be published by Bloomsbury tomorrow.
It tells the stories of ordinary women who perform extraordinary feats of endurance, and each chapter sees Minchin join a different woman for a challenge.
The 54-year-old left the famous red couch in September 2021 after 20 years at the helm, but was back on Wednesday to discuss her second literary offering, entitled Fearless: Adventures With Extraordinary Women
When she left the BBC in 2021, Minchin said: ‘In December I’d taken three, four weeks off work because of an ankle operation and I had that period to realise that when I’m not getting up at 3:40am in the morning, I’m doing all sorts of things in the evening that I want to be doing – like just watching telly with my family, doing that kind of family stuff…
‘I think it was coming out of winter into this period that the decision was made.’
In 2013, inspired by filming for BBC Breakfast in the Olympic velodrome, she decided to train for triathlons.
So far she’s completed 25, including two of the toughest in the world — the Patagonman (in South America) and Norseman (in Norway).
For her new book, she documents 17 challenges she’s completed over the past two years with other more experienced women.
In 2019, she made huge waves by being one of the first women to discuss her menopause on television — owning up to suffering from a short temper, hot flushes and heart palpitations.
Speaking to the Daily Mail this week, she said: ‘I wanted to open up the box but it felt very scary telling six million people I felt menopausal because it was a taboo subject.
‘It could have been career-limiting. People could have written me off.
‘But talking about it was so powerful; at the time, I was in a really, really difficult place. I had a lot of complicated things going on both physically and psychologically. I was feeling very anxious and vulnerable.
‘So it was brilliant because I showed a lot of people that there I was sitting on the BBC sofa, holding down a really pressured job, but with all this stuff going on.’
‘When I signed up for BBC Breakfast I genuinely never thought I’d be there at 50. There were women ahead of me, like Fiona [Bruce], and thank goodness for them.’
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