The BBC may well say that getting rid of Arlene from Strictly Come Dancing is nothing to do with her age – but I don’t believe them. To have one of the world’s most successful and knowledgeable choreographers judging the dancers has been a strength of the program – giving a real basis to those judgements. With an eye over their shoulder to competing with the X-Factor, the Beeb seems to think the magic formula of ‘refreshment’ is the answer – refreshment meaning bringing in a young, pretty female with less qualification for the job.
People will watch Strictly because they love it – and Arlene is part of the reason they love it. They’ll watch it with Alesha too – but it will have lost the very special reason it wasn’t just like other other programs – the very fact that it has flown in the face of age discrimination up until now with an older head judge and a very, very old presenter. Why not replace Len? Or Brucie? Oh – they’re older men – it’s only women who aren’t allowed to get old in pubic. So it’s not just age – it’s age and gender! Shame on you BBC!
Perhaps this should be a case for the Equality and Human Rights Commission? Organisations that spend public money have to be subject to the Equality Duty. The BBC were very keen that the new Equality Bill should not interfere with their rights in terms of program content – and we politicians leading on the Bill believed they meant that the law should have nothing to do with how many women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and so on should appear in their dramas and soaps etc. Clearly that would have been a nonsense. However, in view of this latest display of age and gender discrimination – perhaps we will have to reconsider this exemption.
And as the Equality Bill is not yet through its legislative processes – I will be considering bringing an amendment to the Bill which looks at the BBC’s exemption again. They clearly can’t be trusted.