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Eddie Mair | 10:06 UK time, Friday, 30 March 2007

This is the place where you can talk about anything serious that you like. There are lots of other places on the Blog where fun and frivolity rule...and as you can see below, we sometimes start threads on topics that have come up on the programme.

But The Furrowed Brow is where you can talk about the serious topics you want. Seriously.


  1. At 10:44 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    From Big Sister almost at 'last orders' in the old 'brow: ( thought it shouldn't get lost) xx ed

    Just posted this on the current thread, but possibly for discussion here?

    A topic I'd like taken up arises from a piece in Mary Seighart's column in yesterday's Times. She wrote:

    "Recently, I wrote a column about the disappearance of older women from television. Their male contemporaries, such as Michael Parkinson, Sir Trevor McDonald and Alan Titchmarsh, are allowed to continue as national treasures, but women, in the main, get locked away in the safe or exiled to radio not long after their first wrinkle appears.

    "Now it is Moira Stuart's turn. This serene newsreader used to do all the BBC's morning bulletins. Then she was restricted to the Sunday ones on Andrew Marr's programme. Now she has lost that job too. A fine reward for 25 yras' service at the Beeb.

    "According to the newspapers, she is only 55, younger than Jeremy Paxman. Her Who;s Who entry does not even have a date of birth: perhaps she saw this coming. But, when will the BBC learn that at least half of its viewing public want to see some women of wisdom and maturity on their screens, and not just bimbos who play pertly and prettily to the older men who sit next to them?

    "We female viewers feel insulted by the airbrushing out of our gender after a certain age. The BBC is a public-service broadcaster and it makes great play of consulting its licence-payers. Perhaps the corporation would deign to listen to us on this?"

    Ms Stuart, incidentally, presented a fascinating documentary last week about the roots of slavery. I, for one, would be extremely sorry to see her disappear.

    But this is an issue of concern to many, and not only women. What do others think?

  2. At 11:37 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Thanks EdI xx

  3. At 11:50 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Big Sis, It's one of those sad facts of life that older men are viewed as 'mature' and therefore still interesting, while older women are sidelined.

    We do not respect age especially in women. We do glorify a plastic wrapped, surgery enhanced, over-slim ideal of womanhood particularly in the media.

    Having said that we now have a generation which grew up with a very different view of women's roles and capabilities and if the baby boomers can't change these attitudes then who can?

    First thing I'd want to check out is who is making these decisions and using what criteria. Is it based on some spurious idea of 'what the public wants'.

    Thank heavens for radio where looks are irrelevant and you can concentrate on the content.

    (re-posted from the previous Furrowed Brow so it doesn't get lost - oh dear not enough time elapsed - malicious warnings)

    While I'm waiting, a further thought. It is said a lot at the moment apropos social breakdown and youth crime that the young do not respect their elders. How are they ever to do so if society, as expressed via the media, does not?

  4. At 12:54 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Ed, I agree with you. I much enjoyed Moira's programme about slavery, but as I watch very little TV I haven't missed her so much on Sundays. I do remember several years ago the salaries of BBC newsreaders were published, and a colleague of mine said of MS's pay, "I think it's racial discrimination."

    What's this about someone else being asked to move aside, too? Does Auntie actually have a pension fund, or do her employees only retire when they have saved enough independently?

    "I think we should be old."

  5. At 12:56 PM on 30 Mar 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Big Sis:

    Does Mary Seighart have a quote from Moira Stuart saying she's been forced out? It may be that her current jobs are her own choice.

    For all I know, it may just be like a breakfast-show DJ; it's a prestigious slot, but after a while, the early mornings get to the DJ and they will often take a less prestigious job (poss. even with less money) just for a break, or to do other things such as voice-over work.

    I know a lot of ex-top TV presenters make a pile of money doing corporate videos and the impression I get is that compared to their more visible work, it's relatively easy money. It's nice to think that news presenters and the like are doing the job for the love of their craft (I'm sure Eddie does) but while I like my job, I'd love the opportunity to spend the last ten years before retirement doing something well paid but easier...

    Of course, if the answer to my original question is "yes", then all of the subsequent waffle is pointless, so please ignore it. ;o)

  6. At 01:30 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Yep, important to raise the profile of this issue.

  7. At 01:55 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:


    This link seems to confirm that she was pushed


    Despite the reluctance of the spokesman to discuss the whys and wherefors, the fact that News BBC have reported it as a loss for Ms Stuart seems to point one way.

  8. At 01:58 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    Could be that the "mature" male newsreaders / presenters are still on that ego trip that women don't have. But if not and its old fashioned sexism then it is a major issue.

  9. At 02:51 PM on 30 Mar 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Big Sister (7):

    Well that's not good. More fool them for throwing away one of the best voices on TV. Serve them right if she came to Radio 4.

  10. At 12:35 PM on 31 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Just catching up with The Now Show, and I hear that they have picked this up too.

  11. At 02:35 PM on 31 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A new slant on Iran from my favourite wry financial commentator.

  12. At 12:41 AM on 01 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Not sure if it was the real Moira - what did you think, Appy?

    I'm really pleased that the Now Show have taken this up and hope it may make the Beeb rethink. If Moira hasn't already got a better offer, of course.

  13. At 01:54 AM on 01 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    It never occurred to me that it could be the real Moira, Big Sis. I wouldn't have thought so, but then, who knows?

    Like you, I was just pleased they were addressing the matter.

  14. At 11:03 AM on 01 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Looking at the newspresenter last night on the Beeb (can't recall her name - she's got a wide jawline, though) I was struck by the fact that she was wearing an outfit with very wide lapels of the type previously worn by Angelic Ripoff. It made me ponder whether she was, consciously or not, modelling herself on an older icon?

    By the way, Huw Edwards had better look out if this trend continues. His hair is becoming very grey. Either he'll need to take up with Lady Grecian, or perhaps campaign to ensure that 'mature' newsreaders are valued.

  15. At 01:37 PM on 01 Apr 2007, admin annie wrote:

    I've just been listening to The World This Weekend which brought up two peripheral matters for me.

    First, if the French Presidential election isn't for another three weeks why on earth were we having a whole program more or less based around it.

    The other thing was translation. Someone brought up the old 'liberty equality fraternity' phrase. This is not english, it is just a lazy translation of the french words. What is wrong with Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood which means the same as the french but is much less mangled english? We do this all the time - live with clumsy old translations. Who on earth decided to call Dostoevsky's book 'The Brothers Karamazov' a direct transliteration of the Russian rather than The Karamazov Brothers which is how you would say it in English. Anyone got any other examples - there must be hundreds?

  16. At 03:25 PM on 01 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    In case, swelled with Hubris from the anniversary of the successful Falklands campaign, Our Great Leader decides to invade Iran, I suggest he has a look at it on Google Earth. Pretty difficult terrain. Besides:
    Falklands total: 12,173 sq km
    Iran Area:total: 1.648 million sq km
    UK Area: total: 244,820 sq km

    Still it ain't likely it'll be his kids doing the fighting
    Houb Salaam
    01/04/2007 at 15:27:31 GMT

  17. At 11:45 AM on 02 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    There's been quite a bit about Moira since I originally posted about her. Now, while I admire her skills, my point is a more general one about the way that very professional, competent people are pushed aside because they are a bit older, and this is particulary in evidence with regard to the media and women.

    It's really time tubs were thumped even more loudly about this kind of thing - after all, whatever our age now, it's something that could be or relevance to any of us, and while I do believe that youth should be given it's chance, I think posts should be earned by competence not by age.

    Looking at some of the younger news presenters that are regularly used nowadays, can we truly say that they are all more competent than some of the older news presenters who have been shunted off? I don't think so. And, yes, I know it doesn't apply uniquely to women news presenters - I believe I'm correct in saying that it happened to Michael Burke who always struck me as extremely good in his post on the news side but has now been consigned to radio.

    A healthy organisation should be capable of integrating people across the age range without feeling it has to shunt its older, more experienced, personnel to one side .....

  18. At 04:56 PM on 02 Apr 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Rant about litter and packaging:

    Just driven back through Derby and witnessed a young women remove her sandwich from its moulded packaging and toss the latter into the street behind her. The man with her paid no attention at all.

    Why is it we have brought up a generation who have not learned to TAKE THEIR LITTER HOME WITH THEM? Would she like me to cast my letter around her house or garden, obviously not, so why is it acceptable to dump stuff in a public street?

    And why is almost none of the fast food and other packaging compostable ? And why do fast food and similar outlets not make it possible to separate your rubbish when you eat in - they do it at the Eden Centre - why not everywhere?

    Because it seems almost NOBODY CARES - IT'S JUST TOO MUCH TROUBLE!

    rant over....I'll slink off to the beach to cool off....

  19. At 05:18 PM on 02 Apr 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    Big Sis (above)

    I agree, we have a HUGE resource of experience in our older middleaged women. A woman at 55 or 60, for example, may have been a mother and possiby a grandmother, and/or had a job and career for a number of years.

    At that point, we need to make the most of them, (them that want to, that is) by any number of means: here a few
    (1) going into secondary schools - a group of thirty women could do wonders in any school
    (2) knocking on doors in local streets to invite integration through tea and cake
    (3) in big groups standing around at closing time to encourage peacefulness

    This is not connected to your 'media and women' Big Sis directly.

    nikki noodle

  20. At 11:44 PM on 02 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    NN: while not, as you say, directly connected with the 'women/older people in media' comments, I do fully agree with the point you make.

  21. At 10:17 AM on 03 Apr 2007, Belinda wrote:

    NN: I think those are wonderful ideas...particularly the tea and cake one.

  22. At 10:07 AM on 20 May 2007, mike cannon wrote:

    Re Matthew Parrish comments on the Madeleine story. If ITV, BBC... send high cost teams to a location they have airspace to fill and will dig until they find a story. If there is no substantial story, they will present rumour and titbits in a serious manner, as if significant. I suspect their reporters are ashamed to do so.
    Their presence and their negative impact on those closely involved then becomes in itself a story to report, eg Mr A's life wrecked by intrusion.
    I can't understand why BBC and ITV editors commit so much time and resource over such a short period, to the exclusion of other major stories.
    How do they justify this imbalance in terms of cost and benefit, taking into account other stories which they are not reporting, which may equally deserve urgent action?

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